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When bacteria get into the bloodstream, bacterial sepsis occurs. Sepsis is a serious condition that can cause death if not promptly treated. People with impaired immune system are more susceptible to bacterial sepsis. Bacteria present in the blood can spread to different body organs through blood circulation. This can cause severe infection of a particular organ. If bacteria produce high amount of toxins in the blood that can lead to very dangerous condition called septic shock.

Causes of Bacterial Infection in the Blood

Sepsis may occur due to other pathogens apart from bacteria. Viruses and fungi can infect the blood and cause sepsis though bacterial infection is the most common cause for the condition. Sepsis caused by bacteria is thereby called bacterial sepsis. Infections of different organs can enter the bloodstream and result in sepsis. The most common causes for blood infection that lead to bacterial sepsis are:

  • Skin infection like cellulitis
  • Skin cuts and wounds infected by Staphylococcus aureus or group A streptococcus
  • Lung infection like pneumonia
  • Infection of gastrointestinal tract by Salmonella bacteria
  • Brain infection such as meningitis
  • Urinary tract infection by Escherihia coli
  • Respiratory tract infection by Neisseria meningitides
  • Ruptured appendix
  • Abscess
  • Infection in children caused by Haemophilus influenzae
Who is at Risk for Bacterial Sepsis?

Anyone can be affected by bacterial sepsis but some people have higher risk of developing this condition. Generally, weak immune system is responsible for occurrence of bacterial sepsis because it is unable to fight off disease-causing pathogens. Thereby increased risk for bacterial sepsis have people with weak immunity such as:
  • Infants and children younger than 3 years of age since their immune system has not fully developed yet
  • Elderly people have weaker immunity due to process of aging
  • People who are receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • People who are suffering from autoimmune diseases
  • People with compromised immune system due to kidney or liver failure, cancer, or HIV/AIDS
  • People treated with immunosuppressive medications
  • People who are taking steroids for extended period of time
Treatment of Bacterial Sepsis

Bacterial infection of the blood is followed by fever and chills, low blood pressure, irregular heart beat, dizziness, decreased urination, skin rash and joint pain. If a person experiences such symptoms a doctor will order blood tests to check for elevation in white blood cell count and presence of bacteria. Once the diagnosis is made, the treatment will depend on severity of the infection and stage of diagnosis. Bacterial sepsis is commonly treated with antibiotics while further treatment may be given if sepsis is diagnosed in advanced stage. 

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