5 Things You Need to Know About Blood Infections

1. Understand the Causes of Blood Infections

A blood infection is a serious, life-threatening illness that demands emergency care. It is the result of your body fighting a severe infection. Your body is overwhelmed by the infection impacting normal blood flow and possibly harming organs. A blood infection can happen if your immune system is down or an invading infection enters your body. Bacteria are the most common causes of blood infections, but viruses and fungi can also contribute. An infection after surgery can also lead to a blood infection.

2. Recognize the Risks of Blood Infections

People with weak immune systems, either from a disease or medical treatment, are more likely to be at risk of blood infections, or sepsis. People with severe infections or who are in the hospital are at an elevated risk of blood infections. When undergoing chemotherapy, there is a higher risk of blood infections. People with diabetes, AIDS or infectious diseases are at risk for blood infections. Babies may also be at higher risk since their immune systems are not fully developed. The elderly population, especially those with diabetes, can be at higher risk.

3. Blood Infection Symptoms Are Tricky

Many of the common symptoms of blood infections mimic other conditions and can be hard to recognize. Common symptoms of a blood infection include a high fever or low temperature, chills or shaking. Confusion, disorientation, dizziness can also be symptoms. Other symptoms may be a high or low white blood cell count. A person with a blood infection can have rapid breathing and a fast heart beat. Sometimes, a blood infection can result in a rash or pain in the joints. Newborns with blood infections can have lethargy, a change in skin color, disinterest in eating, a fever, rapid heart beat and jaundice.

4. Know the Tests and Treatments for Blood Infections

Various tests can be run to check for blood infections including blood work, blood cultures, urine tests, a chest X-ray for infections or a CT scan. Most blood infections require the use of antibiotics to cure, but some dispute the effectiveness of antibiotics for sepsis. Blood infections can also require the use of oxygen, saline IV solutions and medications to increase the blood pressure. Large amounts of fluids are given to increase blood pressure. Drugs can also increase blood flow to organs.

5. Prevention of Blood Infections Is Difficult

There’s no way to prevent all types of blood infections. Be aware of the symptoms and get immediate, urgent care for the symptoms. Early diagnosis and quick treatment are the best ways to prevent serious damage to organs. For pregnant women, a swab test shows can determine if they carry a dangerous bacteria that passes to the newborn.

About this Author

Sharisa Lewis is a writer and editor with a work background that includes Washingtonpost.com, PBS Online, AOL News and Work.com. She helped launch Washingtonpost.com’s Health site. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from American University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Brigham Young University.