Blood poisoning – causes, symptoms and other risk factors

Blood poisoning

When you have blood poisoning you should be worried because this is a serious infection which is happening when bacteria are in your bloodstream. Also you can have a blood poisoning which is coming from an injury [1]. When your body is having a blood poisoning, then your immune system is going overdrive because it is trying to fight against this disease. When this is happening, then the blood in your organs (such as kidneys, brain and heart) is reduced. You must visit your doctor as soon as possible because if you left this condition untreated, then you are having a risk of getting failure on your vital organs which is leading to death. Blood poisoning is just a term for this kind of infection but it has nothing with the term poison. Medical professionals are using the term blood poisoning to describe sepsis and septicemia. This is not just serious condition when you are hearing it, but you should also be worried about it. This is one of the most serious and fatal infections. When you are suffering from blood poisoning, then you can have sepsis in near time because blood poisoning is developing in this condition. You should treat this condition in order to stop the further developing. Also you should understand the risk factors because in this way you can prevent the blood poisoning.

Causes for blood poisoning

When you have some other infection in your body and which is caused by bacteria, then you have risk of getting blood poison because bacteria can enter in your blood stream. When you have bacteria in your bloodstream, then this is referred to septicemia. These two terms are often used in the same way but they are not meaning the same. Septicemia is when you have bacteria in your blood which can lead to sepsis while sepsis is more severe condition which is happening when you are leaving the bacteria untreated. Those infections are happening in a urinary tract, lungs and abdomen. Patients who are hospitalized are having increased chances of getting sepsis. [2] You must have some other infection in your body to get blood poisoning. Blood poison is not happening without other infection. People who are recovering from severe wounds, surgeries and dental extractions are having increased risk of getting blood poisoning [1]. People who have weak immune system are also having increased chances of getting blood poison [3]. Elderly and young children are also having chances of getting blood poisoning. [4]

Blood poisoning

Symptoms of blood poisoning

Here are symptoms of blood poisoning:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Paleness
  • Chills
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Moderate or high fever

The mentioned symptoms also can be associated with flu and other diseases. If you had surgery in the near past and you are in your recovery, then if you are feeling some of the mentioned symptoms, you must visit your doctor because you have increased chances of getting blood poison.

Advanced symptoms of blood poisoning: Also when you are suffering from blood poisoning you can have advanced symptoms which in many cases are life – treating symptoms. Here are some of them:

  • Shock
  • Confusion
  • Little to no urine production
  • Red spots on the skin

When you have blood poison, then you are increasing your chances of getting septic shock and respiratory distress syndrome. You must visit your doctor regularly because if you are not treating this condition, then you can be death. It is difficult for doctors to diagnose the blood poisoning because the symptoms of this disease are similar to symptoms of other diseases. Your doctor will make you a physical exam to be sure if you have blood poison. In this exam the blood pressure and temperature of body will be checked. If bacteria are detected, then your doctor will make serious tests to be sure for the cause.

Risk factors for blood poisoning: The number of people who are diagnosed with blood poisoning and who are dying of this cause is increasing. Every single person who has minor injury can have blood poison. People who are having the biggest risk of getting blood poisoning are the next groups:

  • People who are very young or very old [4]
  • People who are in hospital for serious disease [5]
  • People who just had surgery [1]
  • People who have injuries and wounds which are a result from accident [1]
  • People who are having a medical condition which is weakening their immune system [3]
  • People who are using medications which are weakening their condition to get blood poisoning.


[1] Gahlot R, Nigam C, Kumar V. Catheter-related bloodstream infections. International Journal of Critical Illness and Injury Science. 2014;4(2):162–7.

[2] Berg D, Gerlach H. Recent advances in understanding and managing sepsis. F1000 Research. 2018;7:F1000 Faculty Rev-1570.

[3] Delano MJ, Ward PA. The immune system’s role in sepsis progression, resolution and long-term outcome. Immunology Reviews. 2016;274(1):330–53.

[4] Armstrong-Briley D, Hozhabri NST, Armstrong K, et al. Comparison of length of stay and outcomes of patients with positive versus negative blood culture results. Proc Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings. 2015;28(1):10–3.

[5] Yahav D, Eliakim-Raz N, Leibovici L, Paul M. Bloodstream infections in older patients. Virulence. 2016;7(3):341–52.


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