Septicemia is a condition that is characterized by the presence of bacteria or their toxins in the blood or tissues. Unlike a localized infection that is restricted to one part of the body, this is a systemic response to an infection that spreads in the body through the bloodstream. Sepsis is another associated term wherein the infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc., and the infection can also spread to the organs.
In case of sepsis, widespread inflammation could occur due to the response of the immune system or the toxins produced by the pathogens. In severe cases, it could even lead to septic shock or death in the absence of prompt treatment. This condition is most likely to affect people with a compromised immune system. This condition could affect children as well as adults.
Neonatal sepsis is said to occur when an infant gets affected by sepsis within three months of birth. If the infant gets exposed to bacteria during delivery, and develops sepsis within 24 hours of birth, it is called early onset. Late-onset neonatal sepsis develops post delivery. The risk is higher in case of premature babies, or in cases where the mother had group B streptococcus infection during pregnancy, or her water broke more than 24 hours before the child was delivered.
Exposure to Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), E. Coli bacterium, etc., could make infants susceptible to sepsis. Infants who have not been vaccinated are also at a greater risk of contracting infections. Blood infection in toddlers and older children are often caused when the disease-causing agents enter the bloodstream through open cuts on skin.
Children affected by medical conditions such as sickle cell disease, pneumonia, cancer, or AIDS are also vulnerable. The common symptoms of a blood infection in kids include high fever, chills, high heart rate, and rapid breathing. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, decrease in urine output, low blood pressure, reduced consciousness, and blood clotting problems.
Since this infection is spread via bloodstream, blood tests and blood culture are conducted. Besides these blood tests, sputum analysis and urinalysis might also be conducted to identify the causal agent. Since the infection can even spread to other organs, an X-ray examination or other such imaging procedures might be suggested by the doctor. Hospitalization is required in the event of a septic shock.
The treatment of blood infection involves the use of antibiotics, in order to prevent the microbes from spreading and preventing any further damage. Until the identity of the causal microbe is established, broad-spectrum antibiotics are administered intravenously. The patient might be admitted to the intensive care unit and put on oxygen support. If the patient's blood pressure falls to a very low level, saline may be administered. Once the condition of the child improves and the identity of the disease-causing agent is revealed by the tests, specific antibiotics and medicines for controlling the body's autoimmune responses will be administered.
Following the vaccination schedule is extremely essential to protect infants from contracting infections. Infected wounds put a child at a risk, which is why wounds must be cleaned and covered with medicated bandage. Sepsis is a medical emergency, and medical assistance must be immediately sought, if a child experiences the aforementioned symptoms.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.