How to tell if you have blood poisoning

Updated March 23, 2017

Blood poisoning, medically known as septicaemia, can be a fatal condition. Septicaemia refers to the effects of bacteria in the blood. Unwanted bacteria usually enter the body through a wound, infection, medical or dental procedure such as a surgery, or an injection. Recognising the signs of blood poisoning is essential to gaining the prompt medical treatment required to prevent death. Advanced cases of blood poisoning can cause a fatally low drop in blood pressure.

Experiencing a sudden and high fever following a medical or dental procedure, wound, or injection can indicate possible blood poisoning.

Vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain are also symptoms associated with septicaemia.

Feeling seriously ill, which is usually exhibited by unusual weakness, could also mean blood poisoning.

Check your heart rate -- if it is faster than usual and you have a wound, infection or a recent shot or medical procedure, septicaemia could be the cause.

Having the chills is another symptom of blood poisoning.

Suffering from confusion and decreased body temperature are usually associated with advanced septicaemia. This can quickly lead to death through respiratory system collapse or organ failure. Shock, which is when the blood supply to the organs is reduced or cut off due to a traumatic situation in the body, usually is the cause of organ failure in those who have suffered blood poisoning.

Seek immediate emergency medical attention if you are experiencing one or more of above symptoms and could have been exposed to bacteria through a recent infection, wound, injection, or medical or dental procedure. Blood poisoning, if caught early, can usually be treated through intravenous medications and oxygen during a hospital stay.


Remember that while septicaemia is not common, the death rate of some types of blood poisoning can exceed 50 per cent, according to the United States federal government website MedlinePlus. Prompt and early medical help once symptoms are detected is crucial to preventing long-term adverse effects or death.

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About the Author

Stephanie Mojica has been a journalist since 1997 and currently works as a full-time reporter at the daily newspaper "The Advocate-Messenger" in Kentucky. Her articles have also appeared in newspapers such as "The Philadelphia Inquirer" and "The Virginian-Pilot," as well as several online publications. She holds a bachelor's degree from Athabasca University.