Septicemia: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Septicemia is when there is a presence of bacteria in the blood, which leads to infections that can be life-threatening.

It is a form of blood poisoning known by its medical term sepsis or systemic inflammatory response syndrome.

Chemicals released into the blood to fight infection can lead to organ failures, such as the kidneys and lungs, causing a fall in blood pressure, leading to death.

The symptoms of septicemia are:

  • Fever
  • Shaking chills
  • Fast breathing
  • High heart rate
  • Shock
  • Decrease in body temperature
  • Resignation of blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Changes in mental stability
  • Blood clotting
  • Decreased urine output or no urine production at all
  • Painful stools
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding between periods

What causes septicemia?

The causes of septicemia are due to infections throughout the body.

These infections occur in the lungs, abdomen, urinary tract, and diseases of the bones, central nervous system, heart, and other tissues.

The infection can spread to other body parts when septicemia is not treated correctly.

One of the most common causes of septicemia is infections in the mouth or teeth that are not treated with antibiotics.


Third-degree burns can cause septicemia due to damage to the nerve endings.

An internal injury can be another factor resulting from rupturing the intestines, the appendix, the spleen, or gallbladder disease.

Other factors that can lead the human body to septicemia are bacteria resistant to antibiotics that were previously easily eliminated.

A weakened immune system can also play a critical role in septicemia.

The diagnosis

To diagnose septicemia, the doctor can take a sample of the secretion of the wound, which will be tested to determine the type of infection and thus define what would be the most effective antibiotic in the treatment.

The following tests can be performed to observe coagulation and signs of infection:

A test measures the number of red and white blood cells in the blood and the total amount of hemoglobin in the blood.

A blood test measures the time it takes the blood plasma to coagulate. A prothrombin partial-time test is another test for the clotting time.

A culture of clear cerebrospinal fluid is tested for the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that circulate in the space around the spinal cord.

Urine controls are also performed for bacteria and other germs in urine samples.

The treatment of septicemia

Treatment usually involves a hospital stay. Fluids and medications are given intravenously to help maintain blood pressure.

Oxygen is administered to help with irregular breathing and antibiotics to treat the infection.

Blood transfusions and plasma will be given if there are abnormalities in blood clotting. Mechanical ventilation if the patient requires it.

The complication of septicemia can lead to diseases such as adult respiratory distress syndrome, kidney failure, respiratory failure, stroke, decreased circulation, and septic shock.

The treatment must be aggressive when antibiotics are administered, which can be broad-spectrum, giving rise to a defense system against infection.

Once the infection is localized, the antibiotic will be equipped to target the disease specifically.

How to prevent septicemia

Being immunized against the Haemophilus B flu, which consists of the flu and the streptococcal pneumonia vaccine, will reduce the risk of developing septicemia in children.