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Bacteremia: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 10, 2024

What is the treatment?

Contrary to what the name may sound like, blood poisoning does not refer to the presence of actual poison in the system. It is a condition that refers to the presence of bacteria in the blood, which is quite dangerous and needs to be treated immediately. If left unchecked, bacteremia or sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure as the bacteria progresses through your body and can even be fatal. Although it is a very serious condition and should not be taken lightly, you can dial down the worry as there are known effective treatments that can have you back to normal.

The main line of treating bacteremia is through medication. These are designed to attack the bacteria that is present in your body. Supportive care is often also given to the patient as this is a condition that needs to be monitored closely for even the minutest of changes. Supportive care is also required if the sepsis has already begun to spread to other parts of the body.

In some cases, both medication and supportive care prove to not be enough. Here, surgery is often recommended as a line of treatment for sepsis. More often than not, patients with sepsis are hospitalized. This is not a condition that you should be treated at home for as it is quite dangerous.

How is the treatment done?

Diagnosing sepsis can often be difficult as the signs and symptoms are shared by many other conditions. The main symptoms of sepsis include sudden chills and fever, which is why doctors often mistake it for a viral or any other fever inducing condition. Sepsis can be diagnosed through blood cultures, and the minute it is diagnosed, the patient is usually hospitalized immediately due to the seriousness of the condition.

The doctor may begin by prescribing medications. These medications include antibiotics, which are given through an IV and known to work against a number of different bacteria in the blood, and vasopressors, which are meant to increase your blood pressure if it remains low even after a few days. The combination can help you fight off the infection and gain your strength back.

If the sepsis has already reached other parts of your body, the course of treatment will include supportive care. Often, patients are given oxygen to help them breathe and prevent any strain on the lungs or cardiovascular system. They are also administered a range of fluids through an IV to boost their overall health and strength, along with the other medications needed to fight sepsis. If things progress badly, a dialysis machine can be required and even an external machine to help you breathe.

If the bacteremia is very bad, surgery is sometimes recommended as a part of the treatment course. It can be used to remove various sources of infection, such as any accumulated pus in your system to prevent any further damage from taking place.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Any patient who has been diagnosed with sepsis is eligible for the treatment and needs to be hospitalized on an immediate basis.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Any patient who does not have sepsis is not eligible to undergo these treatments.

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Are there any side effects?

With most antibiotics, the most common side effect is the development of a fever. This is, however, not a cause for alarm. Antibiotics tend to raise the body temperature when you consume them so this side effect is a completely natural one. If you have been hospitalized, you can expect a little bit of pain and bruising where the drip has been inserted into your arm. Due to anxiety, some patients also experience difficulty in sleeping, especially when they are in a hospital.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Once the sepsis has been treated, you will be asked to maintain hygiene in all open wounds. There will be a specific diet to follow as your body will still be a little weak from the infection and it may take a while for you to be back on your feet again. Certain medications may continue for a short while after the blood poisoning has been cleared out to rule out any unseen factors.

How long does it take to recover?

The recovery period generally depends on the severity of the infection, however, it can take anywhere between a week or two for the infection to completely clear out. If your organs have begun to go into shock, it will take much longer to recover as the doctors will also have to help the organs come out of the shock and start working normally. This can take a while.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of antibiotics in India ranges from Rs. 50 to Rs 200, depending on the brand of the medicine that you are using as well as the dosage.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment are permanent however, treating one case of sepsis does not mean that you will never get sepsis again if you are not careful. In the event that you do get it again, the infection is seen as a fresh case and not an extension of the previous one.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are no alternative treatments or home remedies for blood poisoning. This is why if you suspect that you may have blood poisoning or that you may just be sick, it is always better to go see a professional doctor instead of mucking about in your kitchen. Blood poisoning can spread very quickly if not treated in time so seeing a doctor as soon as is possible is in your best interests.

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Written ByDr. Pankaj Verma ACLS,POST GRADUATE COURSE IN RHEUMATOLOGY,Fellowship in Diabetes,MBBS,Post Graduate Course In Rheumatology,MD - Medicine,Masters in Psychotherapy and CounsellingInternal Medicine
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