Bacteremia is the condition in which bacteria enters into the bloodstream. It finds its way into the blood through different sources like Intravenous catheter, dental procedures and other surgical wounds etc. As long as the immunity is strong for the individual, no problem occurs. Once the immunity is hampered, bacteria will start attacking other organs of the body causing metastatic infections. Bacteremia is a serious life threatening disorder which may cause meningitis, cellulitis and pneumonia.
Who are at Risk ?
Children below 4 years old and those who have history of focal infections are more prone to get bacteremia infection than others. For some children, there may be organ dysfunction initiating from the symptoms of intense heart rate, increase in temperature and hypotension. Bacteremia is often transient disorder unlike other infections that are slow and continuous.
Many cases of bacteremia do not have any symptoms. For example, people who get bacteria into the bloodstream through dental procedure are asymptomatic. Some people may have fever, chills, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, increased breathing, organ dysfunction and shortness of breath.
It is done through the reports of blood culture that detects the presence of bacteria in blood.
Number of factors may cause bacteremia and infection from bacteria is largely influenced when the person’s immunity is lowered. Even from the simple act of vigorous brushing can be one of the causes. A person who is on catheter for long time has increased chance of getting bacteremia. Presence of surgical wounds in the body, IV fluids, cardiac catheters and other tubes and devices give room for the entry of bacteria into blood. Patients who are compromised with their immunity like HIV infection are more prone to bacteremia than others.
Individuals who are taking treatment for drug abuse, antibiotic therapy, alcoholism, malnutrition, prolonged illness, and chemotherapy are at the risk of developing bacteremia. Urinary tract infection (more particular in women), ulcers, abscessed tooth and use of ostomy tubes give room for bacterial growth inside the organ.
The affected person should be put on antibiotics even before the positive evaluation of bacteremia is made. Very often bacteremia presents infection in the body and hence finding it and treating it is very important. Doctor should combine factors like age of the child, temperature he/she has and the findings of the lab results before proceeding with treatment. Depending on the intensity of illness, the patient should be admitted as in-patient or outpatient giving empiric antibiotics. For more severe form of bacteremia, parenteral antibiotics are administered. The risk of mortality is reduced if antibiotics are given intravenously.
Use of antipyretics like Ibuprofen and acetaminophen during fever is still debated among many doctors. The exact cause of infection should be determined with relevant tests. Amoxicillin, ampicillin, ceftriaxone, cefotaxime, gentamicin and vancomycin are some of the common drugs given for managing bacteremia.
You need to prevent infections in any form to protect you from bacteremia.