How is sepsis diagnosed and treated?


Doctors diagnose sepsis using a number of physical findings such as:

  • Fever
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing

Doctors also perform lab tests that check for signs of infection or organ damage.

Many of the signs and symptoms of sepsis, such as fever and difficulty breathing, are the same as in other conditions, making sepsis hard to diagnose in its early stages.


Research shows that rapid, effective sepsis treatment includes:

  • Giving antibiotics
  • Maintaining blood flow to organs
  • Treating the source of the infection

Doctors and nurses treat sepsis with antibiotics as soon as possible. Many patients receive oxygen and intravenous (IV) fluids to maintain blood flow and oxygen to organs. Other types of treatment, such as kidney dialysis or assisted breathing with a machine, might be necessary. Sometimes surgery is required to remove tissue damaged by the infection.