Recovering from Sepsis


Common Long Term Problems

Post Sepsis Syndrome (PSS) is the term used to describe the group of long term problems that some patients who have experienced severe sepsis can suffer during their rehabilitation period.

The effect of any critical illness and spending time being treated in a Critical Care Unit is already recognised by health care professionals as causing certain long term problems for up to two years afterwards. However, sepsis can cause additional problems which may not become apparent for several weeks, for example, recurring infections during the rehabilitation period.

The length of time spent in hospital can also affect rehabilitation.

It is important to remember that not everyone experiences problems after being critically ill and the length and severity of the sepsis and the fitness of the individual prior to their illness has a marked impact on how quickly they recover.

These problems can be divided into physical or psychological and emotional.


  • Lethargy / excessive tiredness
  • Poor mobility / muscle weakness
  • Breathlessness / chest pains
  • Swollen limbs (excessive fluid in the tissues)
  • Joint pains
  • Insomnia (due to pain / breathlessness)
  • Hair loss
  • Dry / flaking skin and nails
  • Taste changes
  • Poor appetite
  • Changes in vision
  • Changes in sensation in limbs
  • Repeated infections

Psychological and emotional:

  • Anxiety / fear of sepsis recurring
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia (due to stress or anxiety)
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Poor concentration
  • Short term memory loss

Long Term Recurring Infections

A very small percentage of sepsis survivors suffer recurring infections during their rehabilitation period.

Occasionally, this may last for several years. These infections can present as a milder version of the original sepsis experienced by the patient or as infections starting in different areas of their body. They often need treatment with antibiotics and can be very wearing both physically and mentally.

Thankfully, most of these problems do settle on their own in time.

It often takes up to 18 months before survivors start to feel like their normal or ‘near normal’ self. If anyone finds they are really struggling with either physical or psychological and emotional problems, do talk to someone about them – either Critical Care staff at a Follow Up Clinic (if your hospital provides one) or your GP. They will be able to advise you and suggest strategies or treatments which may help.

The UK Sepsis Trust also has a support team who will be happy to talk things through with you.

‘In Touch’ Service

We also run the ‘In Touch’ Service for Sepsis Survivors and Bereaved Relatives

The UK Sepsis Trust now provides an ‘In Touch’ service which enables adults who have been affected by sepsis to communicate on a one to one basis either by email or telephone. It is meant as part of our overall support system which includes our Sepsis Website, Forum and Facebook, one to one discussions with a member of our support team and our support groups. The ‘In Touch’ service is designed to help adult sepsis survivors during their rehabilitation phase and bereaved relatives of sepsis patients. It can be accessed by speaking to the girls in our office on 0845 606 6255 and asking to be referred to the support team.

Please read the guidelines and disclaimer (found on the homepage) before using the service. If you have any queries, please ask a member of the UKST team in the office.
See below downloadable booklets
Office Phone Number: 0845 6066255

Please see below for Downloadable Booklets

Sepsis- a guide for patients and relatives 03 16

Sepsis Survivors Booklet

Information About Post-Operative Sepsis for Patients and Relatives

Chronic Fatigue Following Sepsis