6 Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Blood Poisoning To Watch Out For

Date May 17, 2018 14:22

What is blood poisoning? Contrary to what the name suggests, blood poisoning refers to bacteria entering the bloodstream, not poison in the blood. Blood poisoning, medically called septicemia, is a serious and potentially life-threatening complication of an existing infection in which bacteria escape the initial infection site, enter the blood, and spread throughout the body.

The condition should be treated promptly, as untreated blood poisoning can quickly escalate to sepsis, and sepsis can progress to septic shock, which is fatal in about 50 percent of all cases.

hywards /

READ ALSO: 8 Warning Symptoms Of Sepsis, And Who Is At Risk Of This Dangerous Condition

Symptoms of blood poisoning

Blood poisoning manifests in the following signs and symptoms:

  • fever;
  • chills;
  • weakness;
  • increased breathing rate;
  • fast heart rate and palpitations;
  • pale skin.

These symptoms may be caused by something other than blood poisoning, but they still warrant prompt medical attention.

If septic shock develops, the following signs and symptoms appear:

  • lightheadedness;
  • confusion;
  • a drop in blood pressure;
  • decreased or absent urination;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • severe muscle pain;
  • severe shortness of breath;
  • cold and clammy skin;
  • red spots on the skin which may grow and look like bruises;
  • unconsciousness.

Septic shock is an emergency. Call the ambulance if you suspect a septic shock.

READ ALSO: Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Peritonitis And When To Seek Medical Attention

Causes of blood poisoning

Blood poisoning results from an existing infection. The condition may develop in the following cases and situations;

  • peritonitis due to burst appendix;
  • pneumonia;
  • a kidney infection;
  • a dental infection;
  • an infected insect or animal bite;
  • an infected puncture wound;
  • prolonged use of a catheter;
  • exposure of a surgical incision that is still healing to bacteria;
  • lack of proper treatment of any open wound.

Blood poisoning is almost always caused by bacterial infections. Rarely, it can result from a viral or fungal infection.

Who is at a higher risk of blood poisoning?

Some people are more likely than others to develop blood poisoning. These groups of people include:

  • the very young and very old;
  • people with compromised immune systems, such as those who have HIV/AIDS and cancer patients;
  • people who inject illicit drugs;
  • people with an indwelling catheter;
  • people who have recently undergone a surgery or a dental procedure.

What to expect after blood poisoning diagnosis

Blood poisoning usually requires a hospital stay and intravenous antibiotics. If your case is mild, you can expect to recover within one or two weeks.

More severe cases of blood poisoning which progressed to severe sepsis may result in serious complications, including the following:

  • blood clots;
  • failure of vital organs;
  • gangrene (tissue death) and subsequent amputation.

Not all cases of blood poisoning are preventable. But if you have an existing infection or an open wound that hasn't healed, take steps to have it treated properly to prevent the infection from spreading and causing damage throughout the body.

Source: HealthLine, Mayo Clinic, LiveStrong

READ ALSO: 5 Major Symptoms Of Appendicitis That Signal The Appendix May Burst

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.