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Common Signs Indicating You May Have a Blood Infection

When sepsis, a condition that results when infection enters the bloodstream, occurs the immune system is greatly compromised when the body attempts to put the proper defenses in place.  However, if existing health concerns are an issue (i.e., such as cancer, a recent surgery, AIDS, or immune deficiency due to advanced age) a blood infection can be life threatening.

That’s why it’s vital to recognize the top 15 signs of blood infection…

1. Skin Spots

Oftentimes, the first sign of a blood infection will show itself in reddish or spotted patches on extremities—hands, legs, arms, feet—as well as other parts of the body.

2. Abnormal Heart Beat

In advanced cases, blood infection can impact the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the major organs—including the heart. As a result your heart beat may increase and decrease without reason (meaning without cause such as following periods of exertion).

3. Urination Issues

Many times an advanced blood infection will also impact the liver, resulting in reduced urination or urge to urinate, particularly with elderly individuals with existing incontinence issues.

4. Agitation

Agitation on its own is not necessarily a sign of a blood infection. However, in combination with other symptoms, it can be a sign if it comes on suddenly, increases, and lasts for more than a few days.

5. Impaired Focus

If sepsis occurs, your mental state can become affected from a blood infection. Sepsis is basically the immune system’s response to infection, where chemicals are released into the blood to prevent further infection which can impair blood flow and deprive the brain of nutrients and oxygen.

6. Dizziness

You may become confused, disoriented and unable to focus your thoughts when infected with a sepsis due to the body reacting to the infection—especially if the infection is left untreated and the blood pressure plummets.

7. Accelerated Pulse

Another common symptom of sepsis is elevated pulse, which occurs as the immune system responds to any serious infection.

8. Nausea & Vomiting

Sepsis can originate in various parts of the body, making nausea (and eventually vomiting) one of the first signs that infection is present.

9. Fever

An infection in the bloodstream is often indicated via a sudden and unexplained a high fever of 38-Celsius or 100-Fahrenheit plus.

10. Chills

In advanced cases of sepsis, your body temperature may plummet and lead to hypothermia, causing severe chills and shaking.

11. Rapid Breathing

Pulse and heart beat aren’t the only things that can accelerate with sepsis; a person’s breathing can as well. In fact, rapid breathing is considered to be one of the first clues that someone may have a blood infection.

There are a couple of reasons it can occur, the first being that the infection is in the lungs and is causing decreased oxygen. The second is that, as the infection worsens, the body needs more and more oxygen, resulting in shortness of breath. Medical guidelines say to be mindful of a respiratory rate that is higher than 22 breaths per minute, and to seek immediate medical attention if it occurs.

12. Diarrhea

Because gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea can occur for a wide variety of reasons, from a virus to anxiety, they are not often thought to be a symptom of a blood infection. As the digestive system is sensitive to changes or functional disruptions in the body, diarrhea may be the body’s first attempt to alert you that something is wrong.

Alternatively, you may get diarrhea because the blood infection is being caused by an infection that originated in the gut. Although diarrhea on its own is not necessarily an indication of sepsis, if you are experiencing it alongside other symptoms mentioned on this list, be sure to book an appointment with your physician to get examined.

13. Pain and Weakness

It’s common for people with sepsis to experience pain, as the body is trying to fight off the infection. This pain may be felt all over, or concentrated in a specific area, such as the joints of the wrists, hips, knees, and ankles.

In addition to pain, weakness is another symptom that affects those with a blood infection. This may be characterized by a lack of strength and muscle wasting, causing individuals to avoid having to move. In some cases, weakness, along with fatigue and low energy levels, may persist even after the sepsis has been treated.

14. Pale and Cold Skin

As mentioned earlier, people with a blood infection oftentimes develop red spots or patches on their skin. But this isn’t the only way the skin can be affected by sepsis; it may also become quite pale in color. This occurs because the body is moving blood to its most vital organs, drawing it away from areas that are considered less important to survival, like the skin.

As well as becoming pale due to decreased blood flow, the skin may also feel clammy and cool to the touch. If it occurs at the extremities, like the hands and feet, it may be indicative of poor blood supply.

15. Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure is an especially serious sign of a blood infection, as it can indicate septic shock—the most critical stage of sepsis. It occurs because the body’s blood vessels are losing fluid, and the veins and arteries are relaxing, which results in blood not circulating through the body as normal.

Due to the severity of this symptom, new medical guidelines for sepsis indicate that physicians should keep an eye on systolic blood pressure that decreases to less than 100.


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