What causes septicemia?

Septicemia occurs when an infection in any part of your body spreads to the bloodstream.

Common areas of infection that lead to septicemia include the abdomen, lungs, urinary tract, bone (osteomyelitis), central nervous system (meningitis) and heart (endocarditis).

What are the risk factors for septicemia?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing septicemia. Not all people with risk factors will get septicemia. Risk factors for septicemia include:

  • Close contact with someone who has septicemia
  • Compromised immune system due to AIDS, cancer chemotherapy or other reasons
  • Localized infections (of a specific organ, tissue or region)
  • Very young age (infants) or advanced age (the elderly)

Reducing your risk of septicemia

Immunization with the Haemophilus influenza B (HIB) flu vaccine and the Streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine have been shown to reduce the risk of septicemia in children. You may be able to lower your risk or your child’s risk of septicemia by:

  • Ensuring that you and your child have been appropriately immunized
  • Receiving appropriate treatment for localized infections
  • Receiving vaccinations against common bacterial illnesses

What is septicemia?

Septicemia is a serious and even life-threatening infection of the blood. Usually it is caused by bacterial infection, but fungi and other organisms also cause this widespread infection of the bloodstream. “Bacteremia” is another term that denotes the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream. Symptoms are related to the chemicals produced during the body’s immune response ... Read more about septicemiaintroduction


What are the symptoms of septicemia?

Symptoms of septicemia are very serious and progress as the infection develops in the bloodstream.... Read more about septicemiasymptoms


How is septicemia treated?

Treatment of septicemia requires hospitalization, typically in the intensive care unit (ICU), where you will be given fluids and medications intravenously. You will receive antibiotics to fight the infection, as well as supplemental oxygen, plasma or other blood products to help with blood-clotting problems and other abnormalities. Respiratory support, sometimes in the form of a ventilator (breathing machine) or hemodialysis, may be required.... Read more about septicemiatreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.