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Septicemia

What is Septicemia?

Septicemia is when there are bacteria found in the blood that leads to infections that can be life threatening. It is a form of blood poisoning known by its medical term of Sepsis or systemic inflammatory response syndrome. Chemicals released into the blood to fight the infection effectively kill the patient by triggering widespread inflammation that can cause organ damage. The blood clotting reduces blood flow to limbs, which cuts off nutrients and oxygen. It can lead to organ failure such as kidney and lungs, and cause a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to death.

Symptoms of Septicemia

The symptoms of septicemia are:

  • Spiking fevers
  • Chills
  • Rapid breathing
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Shock
  • Fever
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Falling blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Changes in mental stability
  • Blood clotting
  • Decrease urine output to no urine output at all
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain or discomfort during intercourse
  • Bleeding between periods

What Causes Septicemia

The causes of septicemia are caused by infections throughout the body. These infections include infections in the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tract, infections of the bone, central nervous system, heart, and other tissues. When septicemia is not treated properly, infection can spread to other parts of the body.

One the most common causes of septicemia is a cut that has become infected as well infections in the mouth or teeth that aren’t treated with antibiotics.

Burns can be a cause of septicemia as third degree burns are susceptible; due in part to the fact that those who suffer third degree burns have damaged nerve endings and miss the symptoms of pain at the burn sight.

Internal injury can be another factor resulting from rupture of intestines, appendix, and spleen, or gall bladder disease.

Other factors for septicemia are bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics that were once able to kill them. These bacteria infections can cause septicemia. A weakened immune system can also play a pivotal role in septicemia and with rise of HIV this is great problem as more of the population have been diagnose with the disease.

Diagnosis of Septicemia

To diagnose septicemia a doctor can use different test if there is an wound then a sample of the wounds secretions will be tested to see what the infection is and what type of antibiotic will be most effective in treatment, the following tests can be performed to test for clotting and signs of infection.

They are:

  • Blood culture—a test that checks for bacteria and other microorganisms in blood samples
  • Complete blood count—is a test that measures the number of red and white blood cells, as well the total amount of hemoglobin in the blood.
  • Clotting studies—consisting of Prothrombin – a blood test that measures the time it takes the plasma part of the blood to clot; a partial Prothrombin time test is another test testing for clotting time, Fibrinogen levels stops bleeding by forming clots a blood test run on these can see how much risk there is in blood clotting happening.
  • CSF Culture—is cerebrospinal fluid culture that tests for bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the clear fluid that moves in the space around that surrounds the spinal cord
  • Platelet count-measures how many platelets are in the blood as they help blood clots.
  • Urine Culture—checks for bacteria and other germs in the urine samples.

Treatment of Septicemia

Treatment usually entails a hospital stay. Fluids and medicine will be given by IV to help maintain blood pressure. Oxygen is given to help with breathing irregularities along with antibiotics to help treat infection. Blood products and plasma will be given if there are any abnormalities in blood clotting. Respiratory support will be provided in the form of a ventilator. The complication of the septicemia can lead to such diseases as: Adult respiratory distress syndrome, kidney failure, respiratory failure, stroke, reduced circulation, and septic shock.

Treatment should be aggressive when antibiotics are given it is a broad spectrum antibiotic since it is given before the doctor knows what is causing the infection. This is done to begin the defense against infection. Once the infection is localized, the antibiotic will be fitted to specifically target the infection.

How to prevent and manage Septicemia

The best ways to prevent septicemia is to be immunized with hemophilus influenza B which is a combination of the flu vaccine and the streptococcus pneumonia vaccine, this will reduce the risk of developing septicemia in children, other immunization should be given to children, as well treatment for any normal or mundane infection.

 

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002331/
http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/sepsis-septicemia-blood-infection
http://www.bettermedicine.com/article/septicemia-1/symptoms
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001355.htm