What Are Symptoms of a Blood Infection?

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For many people, the first symptoms of a blood infection, or sepsis, are rapid breathing and a change in mental status, such as confusion or decreased alertness, according to WebMD. People may also experience nausea, vomiting, fever, chills or diarrhea.

Sepsis is a serious condition in which the body overreacts to an infection, states WebMD. The immune system floods the body with many chemicals to stop the infection from spreading, but the chemicals released instead trigger widespread inflammation. A person is diagnosed with sepsis if she develops two of the following conditions: a heart rate faster than 90 beats per minute, a respiratory rate of more than 20 breaths per minute, a previously confirmed infection, or a body temperature that drops to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or rises to 101 degrees Fahrenheit or above, according to Mayo Clinic.

The first step to treating sepsis is a quick diagnosis, according to WebMD. This can include blood tests to measure the number of white blood cells present in the body and X-rays to look for infection. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, treatment usually includes broad-spectrum antibiotics and IV fluids to keep a person’s blood pressure up. Once the actual cause of the infection is identified, a doctor can begin treating that particular cause. This could include surgery or dialysis depending on the type of infection.