Blood poisoning, or precisely sepsis, is an infection of the blood with bacteria or other pathogens. Timely treatment is essential to ensure normal functioning of the vital organs and to avoid medical complications.
Blood poisoning refers to a medical problem in which the blood is contaminated with pathogenic microbes and their toxic productions. Also called sepsis, it is a serious infection, and it is necessary to treat it at the earliest possible date. Delay in getting proper treatment is associated with exacerbation of the condition, resulting in life-threatening complications, and at times, fatality.
What Causes Blood Poisoning?
In most cases, the root cause is bacterial infection in the blood (bacteremia). Also, other pathogenic organisms, like virus and fungi contribute to the causes, in some cases. Initially, infection takes place in the skin, wounds, gums or other body parts, which later spread to the bloodstream. Once the blood is infected, the pathogen and its secreted toxins are spread to the internal organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc., and result in a wide range of symptoms.
There are three stages of sepsis or blood poisoning, which are categorized with respect to pathogenic invasion in the host. Uncomplicated sepsis is resulted due to common infections of the wounds, cold, and flu. The second stage is severe sepsis, wherein, the hypersensitive reaction of the body’s immune system impairs the normal functioning of the vital organs. An untreated severe sepsis may worsen to septic shock, the third stage of sepsis.
- Running high temperature on all a sudden
- Chills and abnormally low temperature
- Nauseated feeling
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
Diagnosis of is done with the help of blood culture method. Of course, the doctor will strictly examine the physical symptoms for suspected blood infection. With severe infection, inflammation of the body parts and blood clots are obvious signs due to action of body’s defense mechanism. The treatment is entirely based on how serious is the sepsis condition. In case of early diagnosis, treatment can be proceeded at home with a full course of prescription antibiotics.
If uncomplicated blood poisoning is left treated, it progresses to severe sepsis, and finally, septic shock. These serious forms are medical emergencies, and patients diagnosed with the same are admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU). The objective is to support vital organ functioning, like normal breathing and heart pumping, while the bacterial infection is treated completely. For such cases, antibiotics are administered intravenously. This intravenous treatment distributes the medication quickly, and shows improvement signs within a short time.
Medication is usually a combination of two or more antibiotics, given for 7 – 10 days. The logic is to give a broad spectrum drugs for various bacterial strains. In the mean time, the causal strain is identified, more specific antibiotic medication is prescribed for the treatment of blood poisoning. The most concerning issue with untreated severe sepsis is high risk of organ damage within a short time. Due to delayed treatment, it is found that the rate of mortality increases by about 7% per hour. In addition to this antibacterial therapy, organ support (e.g. kidney dialysis and intubation, mechanical ventilation) and surgical approaches to remove the infection may be directed.
By the time, patients with severe sepsis and septic shock are hospitalized, the vital organs are no longer functioning normally, as they should. Thus, chances of complications are very high, and their survival rate is reduced. As per statistics, the mortality rate of these patients is about 40% or more. It is important that diagnosis is done in the initial stages and correct treatment is followed without wasting time. In such cases, the pathogenic invasion is stopped before it spreads to the vital organs.