What is sepsis? Symptoms and signs of blood infection, what causes it, treatment explained - how do you get it

Kate Garraway has revealed her husband, Derek Draper is currently in hospital with ‘life-threatening’ sepsis

Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway has announced that her husband Derek Draper has sepsis.

The 55-year-old TV host was back presenting on ITV after being away for three weeks.

Speaking to her co-host Richard Madeley she explained she had “dramatically disappeared” due her husband developing the “life-threatening” condition.

But what is sepsis, what are the symptoms and how do you catch it?

Here’s everything you need to know.

If you develop symptoms of sepsis it’s important to seek medical attention immediately (Pic: Getty Images)
If you develop symptoms of sepsis it’s important to seek medical attention immediately (Pic: Getty Images)
If you develop symptoms of sepsis it’s important to seek medical attention immediately (Pic: Getty Images)

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life threatening condition that is triggered by your immune system’s response to an infection.

If the infection is not stopped and allowed to spread, this can trigger sepsis which could potentially lead to tissue damage, organ failure and even death.

Sepsis presents itself in three stages: sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock.

Here are the three stages of sepsis explained:

  • Sepsis: the infection has gotten into your bloodstream and causes inflammation in your body.
  • Severe sepsis: the infection and inflammation has started to affect organ function.
  • Septic shock: a serious complication that causes blood pressure to drop and can lead to life-threatening complications including organ dysfunction, heart failure, stroke or death.

What are the symptoms of sepsis?

According to Heathline, the symptoms of sepsis will depend on what stage of the condition you are in.

Symptoms of sepsis can include:

  • fever and/or chills
  • confusion or disorientation
  • difficulty breathing
  • fast heart rate or low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • extreme pain
  • sweaty skin

You must have one or more of the following signs to be diagnosed with severe sepsis:

  • difficulty breathing
  • bluish discoloration of the skin, especially lips, fingers, toes
  • chills due to a drop in body temperature
  • decreased urination
  • dizziness
  • changes in mental ability
  • extreme weakness (asthenia)
  • low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
  • abnormal heart functions
  • unconsciousness

Signs and symptoms of septic shock (septicemia):

  • Low blood pressure
  • Often severe sepsis and septic shock symptoms overlap such as: severe difficulty breathing, acute confusion, and bluish skin

How do you get sepsis?

Sepsis is triggered by an infection such as pneumonia or blood poisoning.

According to the NHS, certain people are more susceptible to sepsis.

These include:

  • babies under 1
  • people over 75
  • people with diabetes
  • people with a weakened immune system
  • people who have recently had surgery or a serious illness
  • women who have just given birth, had a miscarriage or had an abortion

The condition can be hard to spot in babies and young children, people with dementia, people with a learning disability, and people who have difficulty communicating.

What treatments are available?

If sepsis is left untreated it can quickly progress and become life-threatening, which is why it’s important that if you suspect it, to seek medical attention immediately.

Treatments for the condition include IV antibiotics, medications for blood pressure, insulin, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and pain relief.

Additional treatment for severe sepsis might include IV fluids and a respirator, whilst dialysis may be needed if the condition has impacted your kidneys.

Surgery may be required in some cases to remove infected tissue.

You can learn more about sepsis at The UK Sepsis Trust.

What has Kate Garraway said about her husband Derek Draper?

Garraway has returned to Good Morning Britain after being off for three weeks.

She explained she had “dramatically disappeared” to co-host Madeley, informing him of her husband’s condition.

Garraway said: “I dramatically disappeared and haven’t been here for three weeks now…

“We were on air and Derek had come out of hospital, he’s been going in and out of hospital for a while for looking at ways to tackle the damage caused by Covid back in 2020.

“But we haven’t really had any sort of medical eruptions, and then he just was really unwell.

“He’d come out of hospital the day before and (I) got a phone call from the person who was looking after him saying, ‘right, we’re really worried’, so I whizzed home, and it just sort of went ‘boom’ from there.”

Draper was taken to hospital where Garraway said they discovered he had “very severe sepsis, life-threatening sepsis”.

The presenter added: “The challenge now is to save them, so that’s where we’ve been for the last three weeks.

“He’s still in hospital, not in intensive care, waiting for another procedure, looking really good.”

Her husband, Draper, contracted coronavirus in March 2020 and has been seriously ill ever since.

Garraway shared their journey in February 2022 in an ITV documentary titled “caring for Derek.”