This Dangerous Condition Can Be Spotted When Your Child Is Crying

Sepsis is a silent killer and knowing the symptoms – especially in young children – is crucial.
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Every three seconds, somebody in the world dies from sepsis.

The illness happens when the immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage the body’s own tissues and organs.

It’s a wildly dangerous condition that kills 48,000 people in the UK every year – and according to The UK Sepsis Trust, this is more than breast, bowel, and prostate cancer combined.

However, with early diagnosis and knowledge of those crucial early signs of the illness, it’s easily treatable in sufferers.

Sepsis is often hard to spot – but in children, it’s often characterised by a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it, difficulty breathing, being sleepy and slow to respond.

However, one warning sign that doctors are urging parents to look for is a weak, high-pitched cry that’s not like your child’s usual cry.

The NHS urges that even if your child doesn’t show all of these symptoms, they could still be suffering from the disease, adding: “If you think you or someone you look after has symptoms of sepsis, call 999 or go to A&E. Trust your instincts.”

Symptoms of sepsis in kids

According to the NHS, you should call 999 or go to A&E if a baby or child has any of these symptoms:

  • Blue, grey, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue – on brown or black skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
  • A rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it, the same as meningitis.
  • Difficulty breathing (you may notice grunting noises or their stomach sucking under their ribcage), breathlessness or breathing very fast.
  • A weak, high-pitched cry that’s not like their normal cry.
  • Not responding like they normally do, or not interested in feeding or normal activities.
  • Being sleepier than normal or difficult to wake.

Likewise, you should call 111 if you, your child, or somebody you look after:

  • Feels very unwell or like there’s something seriously wrong.
  • Has not had a pee all day (for adults and older children) or in the last 12 hours (for babies and young children).
  • Keeps vomiting and cannot keep any food or milk down (for babies and young children).
  • Has swelling or pain around a cut or wound.
  • Has a very high or low temperature, feels hot or cold to the touch, or is shivering.

If doctors suspect your child has sepsis, they will treat them with antibiotics immediately to try and prevent it from turning into septic shock, which can lead to organ damage.

Can you prevent sepsis?

Sadly it’s not always possible to prevent sepsis. But there are things parents can do to try and prevent the infections which can then lead to sepsis.

According to the NHS, these actions include:

  • Keeping kids up to date with vaccines,
  • Cleaning and caring for any wounds properly,
  • Making sure your children take antibiotics correctly and follow the course as prescribed,
  • Washing hands regularly and teaching children how to maintain good hand hygiene, too.