"Blood poisoning" is not a medical term. But as the term is usually used, it refers to the presence of bacteria in the blood (bacteremia) — and not a poisonous substance in the blood. However, bacteremia is a serious illness and requires prompt medical attention.
When to see a doctor
If you recently had a medical or dental procedure or injection and have any of the following signs and symptoms, see your doctor right away:
- Sudden, high fever
- Rapid heart rate
- Nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain
- A feeling or appearance of serious illness
A diagnosis of bacteremia is usually confirmed by a blood culture. Treatment requires hospitalization and includes intravenous antibiotics. Without prompt treatment, bacteremia can quickly progress to severe sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition.
Apr. 25, 2012
- Schwartz BS. Bacterial & chlamydial infections. In: McFee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. 51st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=18218. Accessed Jan. 10, 2012.
- Reller LB, et al. Blood cultures for the detection of bacteremia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 23, 2012.