Bacteremia is a condition when bacteria are present in the bloodstream. The presence of bacteria in the bloodstream is not necessarily dangerous . However, if not treated properly and bacteria continue to multiply , bacteremia has the potential to lead to severe infections .

Generally, the immune system can quickly kill bacteria if only a small amount of bacteria enters the bloodstream. However, if the number of bacteria is large enough and the body's immune system is unable to fight it, serious infections up to sepsis can occur.

Causes of Bacteremia

Bacteria can enter the bloodstream when a person undergoes certain medical procedures, such as tooth extraction, insertion of a catheter , insertion of a breathing tube, or surgery.

In addition, bacteremia can also occur due to the spread of infection from certain body parts, such as urinary tract infections , dental infections, or infections of the lungs, such as pneumonia .

There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing bacteremia, namely:

  • Under 1 year old (infants) or over 60 years old (elderly)
  • Suffering from burns
  • Have a weak immune system due to certain diseases, such as cancer or HIV/AIDS
  • Are taking medication that affects the immune system, such as chemotherapy
  • Suffer from a chronic disease, such as diabetes or heart failure
  • Abusing drugs in the form of injections

Several types of bacteria that can cause bacteremia are Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA , Eschericia coli , Pneumococcus , Group A Streptococcus , Salmonella , and Pseudomonas aeruginosa .

Symptoms of Bacteremia

Bacteremia can cause a variety of symptoms. These symptoms can be mild, such as a fever that can heal by itself, to severe, such as sepsis. If there are not too many bacteria and the body's immune system can handle it, bacteremia doesn't even cause any symptoms.

However, if the bacteria in the bloodstream continue to multiply, an infection can occur which is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • shivers
  • Heart beat
  • Blood pressure becomes low
  • Breath becomes faster
  • The body becomes weak
  • Dizzy
  • Altered state of consciousness, for example, dazed
  • Rash all over the body

If the infection occurs in the digestive tract, complaints in the form of diarrhea , vomiting, nausea, or abdominal pain may appear. In children, infections caused by bacteremia can also cause children to be more fussy, weak, inactive, and have difficulty eating.

When to see a doctor

Check with your doctor if you or your child has the symptoms mentioned above.

Immediately go to the doctor if the complaints are getting worse or if complaints appear after carrying out medical procedures, including dental treatment or placing a urinary catheter.

Diagnosis of Bacteremia

First of all, the doctor will ask questions about the patient's complaints, medical history, and medical history. Next, the doctor will perform a thorough examination, including body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure.

Doctors can only diagnose bacteremia if bacteria are found in the patient's bloodstream. Therefore, the doctor will perform a supporting examination which includes:

  • Blood culture , to determine whether there are bacteria in the blood
  • Sputum culture or urine culture, to determine the source of infection
  • Scanning with X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scans, to diagnose infection or inflammation in certain organs, such as the lungs and bones

Bacteremia Treatment

Treatment of bacteremia will be adjusted to the type of bacteria that causes it and the severity of the disease.

Antibiotic drugs , such as ciprofloxacin, will be given if the bacteremia has caused the infection. The type of antibiotic will be adjusted to the type of bacteria found through a blood culture. Antibiotics can be given in the form of oral drugs or injections.

In addition to treatment with antibiotics, the doctor will remove and replace the catheter if the bacteremia is triggered by a urinary catheter. Meanwhile, if bacteremia occurs due to abscesses in certain body tissues, surgical procedures can be an option to remove pus from the abscess.

Bacteremia Complications

Bacteremia can complicate bloodstream infections . This bloodstream infection can be fatal if not treated properly. The complications are sepsis and septic shock . Sepsis and septic shock will trigger inflammation throughout the body which has the potential to cause damage to multiple organs ( multiple organ failure ). This condition can be life threatening.

Prevention of Bacteremia

Bacteremia can not always be prevented. However, there are several efforts that can be made to reduce the risk of bacteremia, namely:

  • Use antibiotics according to the doctor's advice before undergoing surgery or dental procedures if you are at high risk of infection
  • Change the urinary catheter regularly
  • Wash your hands properly and regularly, especially after using the toilet or before eating
  • Immunize according to schedule
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