Septicemia – Symptoms & Treatment

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Septicemia is often the result of another infection from which large amounts of bacteria enter the blood and start spreading throughout the body. It is a life-threatening disease which has to be treated promptly. Septicemia affects thousands of people every year. 

Causes of Septicemia

There are millions of white blood cells in the blood that are responsible for fighting off infections and protecting the body. These cells are usually at their best performance, like when there is a wound the white blood cells destroy the infection and help heal the wound. 

But sometimes there are infections which cannot be controlled by the white blood cells as the infection is really severe or because the immune system is weak from a different illness. During this time the bacteria from the infection enters the bloodstream and is eventually carried to organs and other tissues. This causes various complications. 

There are many causes for developing blood poisoning, it might range from a simple wound or burn to more severe illness. Septicemia is mostly seen in older adults or younger children as both their immune systems are weaker. Children who have undergone surgery or have weaker immune system have more chances of developing this disease. 

Symptoms of Septicemia

Symptoms of septicemia are very evident as they start quickly, and the person starts looking very sick. The symptoms may occur after surgery, injury or any localized infection like pneumonia. Some of the initial symptoms of septicemia are:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Chills
  • Breathing very fast
  • Fever

Without any treatment, as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more severe:

  • Red dots on the skin
  • Shock
  • Confusion
  • Inadequate blood flow
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reduced urine content

Treatment Methods

The treatment for septicemia depends on the person’s age, overall health, tolerance towards certain medications and extent of the condition. 

When septicemia is diagnosed at an early stage, it can be treated with antibiotics at home. However, when the infection is severe, and there is no time to figure out the type of bacteria causing the infection,  “broad spectrum” antibiotics are used as these work against a large pool of bacteria at once. The individual has to be hospitalized, and antibiotics are intravenously administered as they will deliver the antibiotics directly into the bloodstream through a tube in a vein. If the specific kind of bacteria affecting the person is identified, then a more focused antibiotic is used. And sometimes, the source of infection is treated as well, like a wound or a burn. One might also need support for breathing as a result of the infection; in these cases, an oxygen mask or ventilator is used. 

Prevention of Septicemia

The following precautionary steps can be taken to protect oneself from septicemia:

  • If one is doubtful of having a bacterial infection, it is better to visit the doctor as early diagnosis of the infection can be easily treated with antibiotics before the bacteria enters the bloodstream. 
  • Parents can ensure the safety of their children by getting them vaccinated on time. 
  • Avoid smoking.
  • It is important for people with diabetes to manage and keep it under check.
  • Eat nutritious food.
  • Regularly wash your hands.
  • Avoids taking tablets that aren’t prescribed by the doctor.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.


When septicemia is diagnosed early, it can be treated with antibiotics. There is ongoing research to improve the early diagnosis of the disease. Even after appropriate treatments, there is always the risk of permanent organ damage, especially for individuals with weak immune systems.

The mortality rate due to septicemia has reduced due to medical developments, but it is important to get to the hospital as soon as possible when an individual shows signs of septicemia. It is not advised to try to treat it at home. 


1. What are the first signs of septicemia?

Fever, high heart rate, higher breathing rate and low blood pressure are some of the initial symptoms. Apart from this, lab tests are done to check for damage to organs. 


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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