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Bacteremia is a condition that consists of a bacterial infection that makes its way into the blood stream. Depending on the extent and severity of the infection, an individual could experience no noticeable symptoms, or a great deal of them. Dental procedures, for example, may introduce certain strains of bacteria to to the blood, but will produce few symptoms before the infection subsides. Other causes, such as a suppressed immune system as a result of medical treatments, alcoholism, or malnutrition, may create several symptoms of bacteremia.
Some of the more common symptoms of bacteremia occur alongside a fever, and tend to remain similar regardless of the type of bacteria causing the infection. Usually, a fever above 100.94° Fahrenheit (38.3° Celsius). can be associated with this form of disease. Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and nausea can often occur as symptoms of bacteremia. Systemic diseases such as this, which affect the entire body, can also lead to chills, sweating, and anxiety. Elderly individuals may show confusion as their main symptom, while not demonstrating many of the other common signs of this disease, however.
During the most severe cases of this medical condition, the symptoms of bacteremia can indicate septic shock, which can be lethal if not treated quickly. Sepsis is caused by a large-scale bacterial infection that overwhelms the immune system, and can create additional signs such as organ failure, a drop in blood pressure, an increase in breathing, and even loss of consciousness. At times, the heart rate may increase, as well. Individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as infants and the elderly, can sometimes be more susceptible to this extreme form of bacteremia.
Generally, a diagnosis for this infection is not made by using these symptoms of bacteremia alone, because they could apply to a wide variety of diseases. This diagnosis process instead uses a sample of blood, which is allowed to sit in a culture dish for 24 to 48 hours. After this period of time, the sample is reviewed to determine whether bacteria have grown in the dish. Sampling the blood in this way can also help to determine which strain of organism is causing the bacteremia, which can assist in creating a proper treatment response. Some of the more common types of bacteria that can lead to this medical condition include Esherichia coli, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus germs, but bacteremia can be caused by other strains, as well.