What is Septicemia? Q & A with Dr. Norman Swan

septicemia
Septicemia is dangerous and can be fatal. If you have a high temperature and don’t know the reason why it’s best to have a blood test urgently.

Septicemia is an infection in the bloodstream. And it’s extremely serious.

So you might have a boil, or you might have a urinary tract infection, or you might have had no obvious manifestation of an infection. And it’s a bacterial infection that we’re talking about here, like staph or E. coli, and it gets into your bloodstream. Because it’s not localised to one spot, it just can run riot through your bloodstream, drop your blood pressure and cause what’s called shock. And there is a high fatality rate to septicemia, and so it needs to be got on top of.

Now, it’s notorious that doctors are not good at recognising septicemia. Because if you recognise it in its early stages, you can diagnose it early and treat it aggressively and prevent people dying, particularly people who are older.

And it’s usually people with a high temperature who are unwell, and you just don’t know where the cause of the infection is, and they just could be developing septicemia. There are other signs of it as well.

Dr. Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist

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