What is Bacteremia: Symptoms, Causes, Complications and Treatment



It is the invasion of bacteria in the bloodstream which can spread to other parts of the body producing abscesses, peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal cavity), endocarditis (inflammation of the heart), or meningitis.

Bacteremia can lead to sepsis or shock , causing a systemic disease with high fever, blood coagulation (thickening) and subsequent organ damage.

Blood is normally a sterile environment, so the detection of bacteria in the blood (most commonly carried out by blood cultures) is always abnormal.

Bacteria can enter the bloodstream as a serious complication of infections (such as pneumonia or meningitis), during surgery (especially when involving mucous membranes, such as the gastrointestinal tract), or due to catheters and other foreign bodies that enter the arteries or veins (even during intravenous or drug abuse).

Bacteremia can have several consequences. The immune response to bacteria can cause sepsis and septic shock, which has a relatively high mortality rate.

Bacteria can also use the blood to spread to other parts of the body. Examples include endocarditis or osteomyelitis. The treatment is done with antibiotics, and the prevention of antibiotic prophylaxis can occur in situations where problems are to be expected.

Symptoms of bacteremia

  • High fever.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Hypoxemia.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Fast breathing.
  • Nausea.
  • Pallor.
  • Weakness.
  • Tachypnea.
  • Diaforesis.

These symptoms are regularly felt when bacteremia progresses and becomes septic, however, when mild bacteremia is present in the body without any inflammation in the blood, the symptoms are not always visible.

Causes of bacteremia

There are a variety of sources from which bacteria can enter a person’s blood and remain there in the form of bacteremia. Some of the main causes are:

  • The transmission of infection diseases.
  • Infected wounds.
  • Injections with non-sterilized needles.
  • Dental procedures
  • Prevalence of any type of infection in the body.


The most common form in which bacteremia is treated is with the help of antibiotics. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to the patient before the infection is positively identified, in the individual. The person suffering from a bacterial infection needs to be constantly monitored to ensure that the problem does not become more serious or becomes septic. The following procedures can be applied to the patient:

  • Correct metabolic abnormalities.
  • Transfusion.
  • Antibiotics
  • Hydrocortisone


  • The abscesses
  • Peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal cavity).
  • Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart).
  • Meningitis.
  • Septicemia.
  • Shock.
  • Systemic disease

Main causes

The causes of these diseases that are similar or related are:

  • Bacteriaemia occult
  • Fever without a source
  • Bloodstream infection
  • Severe bacterial infection
  • Systemic bacterial infection
  • Unnecessary hysterectomies