Know About Blood Infections - Types, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Blood infections - Types, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
18 Nov 2021
10 mins
Table Of Content
Know About Blood Infections - Types, Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

    Microorganisms present in the environment can attack us anytime and could contaminate the blood and cause infections. There are different types of microbial infections that are carried in the blood causing blood infections. Blood infections due to microorganisms could lead to a condition called sepsis and are life-threatening.


    Sepsis is a dangerous condition that could result from infection in any body part that spreads through blood and affects the whole body. Critically ill patients and people with a weak immune system have to be extra careful. Let us see the types of blood infections, their signs and symptoms and how to cure blood infections.


    Let Us Know How Many Types Of Blood Infections Are There


    There are three types of blood infections caused by microorganisms namely bacteria, viruses, and fungi which are known to interact with potentially life-threatening blood infections. Let's discuss in detail about the types of blood infections caused by them.


    1. Bacteremia


    Bacteremia is a term indicating the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream. Bacteria enter our body through various ways. It may enter through minor cuts and wounds, during hospitalization, or during any medical procedure or surgery. 


    Some of the bacterial species that cause bacteremia are:

    • Staphylococcus aureus, including MRSA
    • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
    • Pneumococcal bacteria
    • Group A Streptococcus
    • Salmonella species
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa


    Common causes of bacteremia:

    • Bleeding gums
    • Injury and burns
    • Surgery
    • Using catheter and breathing tubes
    • Weak immune system during chronic illness


    Bacterial blood infection signs and symptoms:

    • High fever
    • High pulse and respiratory rate
    • Leaking wound
    • Painful or swollen skin
    • Low blood pressure
    • Confusion
    • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea


    We have some bacteria naturally present in our body and are generally harmless. However, if they enter the bloodstream they tend to cause blood infections. This infection affects the body if your immune system is too weak or if the disease is too intense.


    In cases like streptococcus pneumoniae, the organism is present in the upper part of the respiratory tract and people still do not fall ill. However, they can spread the infection to others through coughing or sneezing.

    Is there a cure for blood infections caused by bacteria?


    Your physician will conduct a few tests to determine the type of blood infection. Antibiotics are the standard treatment for bacterial infections and the duration of the treatment will be a minimum of two weeks. 


    The antibiotics will be given as an infusion through veins which enter the bloodstream directly. Your physician may add IV fluids and other medications to balance the electrolytes and to stabilise the condition.

    2. Viremia


    While blood infections and sepsis are more common among bacterial infections, viral infections such as COVID-19 and influenza also affect blood and other organs. Viremia is the term used for indicating the presence of a virus in the bloodstream.


    Who is at a high risk of getting viremia?


    Viremia is most likely to affect people belonging to the following categories:

    • Unprotected sexual contact with the infected person
    • Sharing needles with an infected person
    • Insect bite
    • Wounds and cuts
    • Infected mother to baby through breastfeeding


    Few of the most common viral infections that lead to viremia are:

    • HIV
    • Dengue
    • Rubella
    • Measles
    • Cytomegalovirus
    • Hepatitis B
    • Polio
    • Chickenpox
    • Yellow fever


    The signs and symptoms might vary according to the type of virus you are infected with. Some of the most frequently occurring viral blood infection symptoms are:

    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Body pain
    • Chills
    • Rashes
    • Diarrhea
    • Tiredness

    How to cure blood infection caused due to a virus?


    The treatment method to cure viral infection in blood depends on your age, infecting organism, health issues and the severity of your infection. In most infections, the first step to treat the symptoms is by using pain relievers and fever-reducing medications, removing nasal congestion and taking sufficient rest until the symptoms subside.

    For viruses such as influenza and chickenpox, the antiviral medications speed up the healing process if given on time. In the case of HIV and hepatitis, long-term treatment may be required to stop the virus from spreading. Especially in HIV, the medication is not a cure, but it keeps the virus from reproducing.

    3. Fungemia


    Fungemia refers to the presence of fungus in the blood. When a fungus enters the bloodstream and affects the organs, it is referred to as an invasive fungal disease. It could be life-threatening, if not treated immediately.

    We are very prone to fungal infection due to some fungal species that are present in the air. They enter our body through breathing. Healthy people do not face severe consequences if they come in contact with the fungus. The infections resolve on their own. However, people having a weak immune system and those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer are at a high risk of getting severely infected, leading to blood poisoning (sepsis).


    Who is at high risk of getting blood infections due to fungus?


    The following are the factors which makes us more prone to fungal borne blood infections:

    • Chemotherapy
    • Weak immune system
    • Medications and steroids which suppress our immune system
    • Long term Hospitalisation
    • Surgery
    • Very low birth weight in infants
    • Central venous catheterisation


    Some of the common fungal species that cause severe illnesses are:

    • Candida species
    • Histoplasma
    • Aspergillus


    Candida is a fungus responsible for a majority of fungal infections. The presence of candida in the bloodstream is known as candidemia. When the candida infection spreads from your blood to other parts of your body like eyes, kidneys, liver and brain, it is known as Invasive Candidemia.


    The fungus candida causes approximately 10% of blood infections acquired from the hospital. Candidemia generally develops over three weeks of admission in the ICU, especially if you have other health issues. The possibility of acquiring candidemia is high if you have been discharged from the hospital with a central nervous system catheter or undergoing cancer chemotherapy.


    Fungal blood infection signs and symptoms:


    • Fever, chills
    • Skin rash
    • Weakness and tiredness
    • Low blood pressure
    • Muscle pain
    • Changes in vision and eye infections
    • Headaches
    • Nerve problems
    • Abdominal pain


    How to cure blood infection due to fungus?


    Treatment for candidemia can be challenging especially if it has been spread to other organs. First step is to identify the source of the infection followed by treatment with antifungal medication. Some of the commonly preferred antifungal drugs include fluconazole, caspofungin, micafungin, amphotericin B and voriconazole. 

    How to prevent blood infections


    • Pay close attention to blood infection symptoms and signs if you experience any.
    • Maintain proper hygiene by washing hands regularly.
    • Keep your blood sugar levels under control.
    • Keep away from infected patients
    • Get vaccinated if possible.
    • Cover your broken or injured skin with a bandage until it heals completely.
    • Do not share your personal items like shaving razors, toothbrushes and towels with others.
    • Take hot showers and clean your body with soap after any physical activity.
    • Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothes.


    Prevention is better than cure


    Since exposure to infectious agents and its impact on you remains unpredictable, follow the safety methods to keep yourself safe from the consequences of getting infected.

    Written by
    BhairaviContent Writer
    AboutPharm D
    Tags :blood infectionstypes of blood infectionsbacteremiaviremiafungemiaprevention of blood infection