Do you know that a blood infection can be due to a bacterial infection in your blood?
Blood infection or Sepsis is a serious infection and can occur when bacteria are in your bloodstream.
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when your body responds to an infection.
When the infection-fighting process turns on your body, it can cause organs to function poorly and abnormally.
Moreover, sepsis can progress to septic shock. It can cause a drop in blood pressure that can lead to severe organ problems and death.
Early treatment with antibiotics and intravenous improves your chance of survival.
However, understanding your risk is the first step in preventing the condition.
Keep on reading to learn more about it in detail.
Causes of Blood Infection
Blood infection occurs when bacteria causing infection in another part of your body enter your bloodstream.
The presence of bacteria in the blood is referred to as bacteremia or septicemia.
The terms “septicemia” and “sepsis” are often interchangeable, though technically they are not quite the same.
Moreover, Septicemia is the state of having bacteria in your blood and can lead to sepsis.
Sepsis, on the other hand, is a severe and often life-threatening state of infection if you do not get treatment in time.
However, any type of infection can cause sepsis.
It can be either bacterial fungal or viral.
And these infections agents do not necessarily need to be in your bloodstream to bring about sepsis.
Such infection often occurs in the lung, abdomen, and urinary tract.
Sepsis happens if you are in a hospital, where the risk of infection is already higher.
Blood poisoning often occurs when bacteria enter your bloodstream in the conjunction with another infection, you will not have sepsis without having an infection.
Some common causes of infections that can also lead to sepsis are:
- an infected insect bite
- abdominal infection
- central line infection like from a dialysis catheter or chemotherapy catheter
- dental extractions or infected teeth
- kidney or unitary tract infection
- exposure of a covered wound to bacteria during a surgical recovery
- not changing a surgical bandage frequently enough
- exposure of any open wound to the environment
- skin infection
- infection by drug-resistant bacteria
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Who is at the risk for Blood Infections?
Some individuals are more respectable than others to sepsis.
Those who are at a higher risk are:
People with weakened immune systems like those with HIV, AIDS, or leukemia.
Moreover, older adults young children, and those who use a catheter have a higher risk.
People who use intravenous drugs like heroin, with poor dental hygiene, and those who had a recent surgery or dental work.
Furthermore, those who are working in an environment with great exposure to bacteria or viruses like in hospitals or outdoors.
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Recognizing the Symptoms of Blood Infections
Some of the signs and symptoms of blood infections are:
Chills, moderate or high fever, weakness,s rapid breathing, increase in the heart rate or palpitations, and paleness of the skin, especially in the face.
Some of these symptoms are also associated with the flu or other illnesses.
However, if you just had surgery or you are recovering from a wound, it is important that you call your doctor immediately after experiencing these possible signals of blood infection.
Some of the advanced symptoms of blood poisoning are:
Confusion, organ failure, shock, and little to no urination.
Moreover, you may also experience red spots on your skin that may grow larger and look like big, purple bruises.
It is important to note that blood infection can also lead to respiratory distress syndrome and septic shock.
If you do not get treatment right away, these complications can lead to death.
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Septicemia vs. Sepsis
Septicemia and sepsis are not the same conditions.
Though you might think that the terms are interchangeable, sepsis is a serious complication of septicemia.
Sepsis causes inflammation throughout your body and this inflammation can cause blood clots.
Moreover, it can also block oxygen from reaching your vital organs, resulting in organ failure.
When inflammation occurs with extremely low blood pressure, it is Septic Shock.
Septic shock is fatal in most cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, over 1.7 million adults in the United States develop sepsis each year.
Almost 270,000 or 15.9% of them may die from this condition.
Diagnosing Blood Infections
It is difficult to self-diagnose blood infections as its symptoms often mimic those of other conditions.
The best way to determine if you have septicemia is to see a doctor.
At first, your doctor will perform a physical exam which often includes checking your temperature and blood pressure.
In case, your doctor suspects a blood infection, your doctor will run tests to look for signs of bacterial infection.
Septicemia can also be inferred with the following tests:
Moreover, your doctor might see problems with liver or kidney functions as well as imbalances in electrolyte levels.
In case you have a wound on your skin, your doctor may take a sample of any fluids from it to check for bacteria.
Therefore, as a precaution, your doctor may order an imaging scan.
These tests can help detect infection in the organs of your body.
These are X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and ultrasounds.
If bacteria are present in your body, identifying what type they are will help your doctor determine which antibiotic to prescribe to clear the infection.
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Prompt treatment of blood infection is crucial as the infection can quickly spread to the tissues or to your heart valves.
Once your doctor diagnosis you with a blood infection, you are most likely to receive treatment as an inpatient at the hospital.
However, if you are showing symptoms of shock, you will be admitted to the intensive care unit.
Signs of shock are:
Paleness, rapid, weak pulse, rapid, shallow breathing, dizziness or unconsciousness, and low blood pressure.
Moreover, you may also receive oxygen and fluids intravenously to help maintain healthy blood pressure and get rid of the infections.
Blood clots are another concern in immobilized patients.
With the help of hydration, your doctor will often treat sepsis, often through intravenous lines.
Furthermore, they might also use antibiotics to target the organism causing your infection.
In some cases, medications may help to temporarily support low blood pressure.
These medications are Vasopressora.
If sepsis is severe enough to cause multi-organ dysfunction, then you may need to be mechanically ventilated.
Or you may even need dialysis temporarily if you face kidney failure.
Long-term Outlook and Recovery
Blood infections can be deadly.
According to Mayo Clinic, septic shock has about a 50% mortality rate.
Even if treatment is successful, it can lead to permanent damage.
Moreover, your risk of future infections may also be greater.
It is important to closely follow the treatment plan by your doctor, as there is a greater chance of a full recovery.
Early and aggressive treatment in the intensive care unit increases the chances of your survival.
Furthermore, you can make full recovery from mild sepsis with no lasting complications.
With the right care, you will be feeling better in as little as a week or two.
If you survive severe sepsis, however, you are at risk of developing serious complications.
Some of the long-term side effects f blood infection are:
Possible blood clots, organ failure, that will require surgery or lifesaving measures to be administered.
It also causes tissue death or gangrene, which requires removal of the affected tissue or possibly amputation.
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The best way to prevent blood infection is to treat and prevent infections. It is important to prevent any open wounds from becoming infected in the first place with proper cleaning and bandage.
However, if you had surgery, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics as a precautionary measure against infections.
It is best to be cautious and call your doctor if you suspect an infection. Avoid places where you are likely to encounter bacteria, viruses, or fungi if you are prone to infection.
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Sepsis or blood infection is a life-threatening illness that occurs when our body responds to an infection. Sepsis occurs when the immune system response gets out of control, thus, triggering extensive inflammation.
It is not contagious, however, bacterial, viral, and fungal infections that trigger it can spread from one person to another. COVID-19 is an example of such an infection. Those who are at a higher risk are newborns, seniors, and if you have pre-existing health conditions.
It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect this condition and seek medical advice, especially if you have a known infection.