Blood poisoning, also known as bacteremia or septicemia, is an infection of the blood. Many people confuse sepsis with blood poisoning and use the two terms interchangeably, but they are actually not the same. Sepsis isa complication of blood poisoning where inflammation in several parts of the body happens.
How Blood Poisoning Occurs
Septicemia, a bloodstream infection occurs when there is bacterial infection in the body enters the bloodstream. Infections in the skin and lungs are the most common, but all infections are dangerous since the toxins and the bacteria themselves can spread through the whole body. Anyone with septicemia should be brought to the hospital as it can progress to sepsis, which causes inflammation that can result to blood clots. Sepsis also blocks the oxygen from going to vital organs and therefore it can cause organ failure.
Anyone can have septicemia, but young babies and older people are very high at risk. These two groups of people have weak immune system, which is why it is important that they are treated immediately. Other people who are high at risk are those with cancer, AIDS, and those who are recovering from surgery.
How Do You Know You Have Developed Blood Poisoning?
It is important that you recognize the signs and symptoms of blood poisoning, which are the following:
- Fever with chills or a very low body temperature
- Rapid pulse and breathing
- Decreased urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion and disorientation
- Dizziness when moving
It is crucial that you check in to the nearest hospital right away when you show signs of septicemia as this health problem cannot be treated at home.
What Happens If Blood Poisoning is Left Untreated?
Blood poisoning has a few serious complications if you leave it untreated or you choose to delay the treatment and apply the “wait and see” approach. These complications include:
- Sepsis: As mentioned, sepsis is a serious complication in which your body’s immune system attacks the infection strongly. As a result, widespread inflammation then organ failure could take place. Those with HIV and other chronic diseases have a higher risk of sepsis.
- Septic Shock: This refers to a frightening drop in blood pressure levels. The toxins from the bacteria in the bloodstream cause poor blood flow, which can result to damage of tissue or organ.
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS): Another life-threatening condition, ARDS can prevent oxygen from reaching the blood and the lungs. About 1/3 of cases result in death, while others cause permanent lung damage and memory problems.
Septicemia or blood poisoning is dangerous. See a doctor right away the moment you recognize the symptoms or you suspect that you have this type of blood infection.