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HEALTH ARTICLES

Understanding Blood Infection - Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Max Lab

Jan 01, 1970

Blood infection may occur in an individual’s body when there is a presence of bacteria in the bloodstream. This is also often termed blood poisoning because it is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Blood infection or septicaemia is a condition in which bacteria and other toxins can spread through the entire body very quickly. This can lead to sepsis, a serious consequence of septicaemia that can damage the tissues rapidly. Read on to know more about septicaemia and how its progression to sepsis infection can be treated timely: 

What is Septicaemia? 

Septicaemia is a clinical term used for describing blood poisoning in an individual. This does not mean that a poison has affected the bloodstream in any way. The word “poisoning” is used for elucidating the gravity of infection in the bloodstream. People with weakened immune systems are often susceptible to blood infection. This can be due to an earlier episode of sepsis, diseases like HIV/AIDS, leukaemia, etc., and constant exposure to bacterial and viral infections. Along with this, people who take intravenous drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and other illicit substances, can be at a higher risk of getting a blood infection. 

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of blood infection could be chills, loss of appetite, high fever, nausea, increased heart rate, light sensitivity, extreme discomfort, lethargy, etc. Some people may also experience anxiety as well as increased aggression. In the most serious blood infection cases, a deep state of unconsciousness may also occur, thus immediate medical attention is recommended at the earliest.

Causes

Septicaemia is said to occur in the blood when there is a bacterial infection in another organ or body part. Due to this reason, it is also referred to as bacteraemia. Infections that take place in the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tract can lead to blood poisoning. Pneumonia that has been left untreated or proper care has not been provided to the patient can also lead to infection in the bloodstream. Other causes of blood infection could be insect bites, dental extractions, exposed open wounds, or any other infection that has been left untreated. It has been observed that people with poor dental hygiene can also get a bacterial infection in the blood. 

Blood Infection Complications 

Blood infections occur due to different types of germs that can cause damage to the tissues in the human body. Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, and E. Coli are the most common bacteria that cause blood poisoning. Mentioned below are serious complications of a blood infection: 
 

  1. Sepsis - Among the most dangerous complications of a blood infection is sepsis. An individual who has a blood infection can have a severe response that causes certain chemicals to enter the bloodstream. This leads to rapid inflammation in the body. Due to this, clots form in the bloodstream that restricts oxygen and nutrients to reach all parts of the body. As a result, organ failure is highly plausible. Rapid breathing and mental confusion are common indicators of sepsis infection. Since this is a life-threatening condition, it is important to know how to treat sepsis because it can permanent damage to the lungs, brain or heart. 
  2. Septic Shock - When the blood pressure of a person with sepsis drops significantly, it can lead to a septic shock. Lack of proper treatment for sepsis or a misdiagnosis is the reason behind a person going into a state of septic shock. It is because of this reason that an individual is recommended to remain aware of how to prevent the symptoms of sepsis from becoming severe. Rashes, rapid breathing, chills, and fever are signs of septic shock that must be treated immediately. Other common symptoms may include a lower amount of urine, dizziness, mental confusion, and bluish discolouration in the lips and fingers.
  3. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) - When oxygen is unable to reach the lungs, then an individual can experience acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS, due to the untreated sepsis infection. Alongside this, fluid builds up in the elastic air sacs known as alveoli which further restricts oxygen to reach other body organs and tissues. ARDS is a very serious complication that is recommended to be diagnosed by an experienced specialist at a reputed medical facility.

Treatment for Blood Infection 

It is not possible to self-diagnose a blood infection because its symptoms are similar to many other medical conditions. So, it is advised to consult a medical practitioner for a physical exam. A blood culture and sensitivity test, a complete blood count (CBC) test, urine culture test, chest X-ray, and kidney function test (KFT) are prescribed to find out the severity of the infection in the bloodstream. For further analysis, image testing such as MRI, CT, and ultrasound can also be done. After a proper diagnosis is made, oxygen and fluids are provided to the patient intravenously. Targeted antibiotics are provided to eliminate the toxins from the bloodstream. People with organ failure are prescribed kidney dialysis and breathing support. In cases, where tissue damage or gangrene has affected the fingers and toes, amputation surgery is performed.

A blood infection may rapidly lead to organ damage, sepsis, or even septic shock if left untreated. Hence, it is imperative to seek the right diagnosis and treatment on time.

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