Differences Between Bacteremia and Septicemia

Bacteremia is the simple presence of bacteria in the blood while Septicemia is the presence and multiplication of bacteria in the blood. Septicemia is also known as blood poisoning.



Bacteremia is the simple presence of bacteria in the blood.Septicemia is the presence and multiplication of bacteria in the blood.


Bacteremia is not as dangerous as Septicemia.Septicemia is a potentially life-threatening infection.


Less amount of bacteria are present in blood.Large amounts of bacteria are present in the blood.


This may occur through a wound or infection, or through a surgical procedure or injection.It can arise from infections throughout the body, including infections in the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tract.


Toxins are not produced.Toxins may be produced by bacteria.


Bacteremia usually causes no symptoms or it may produce mild fever.It shows symptoms like chills, fever, prostration, very fast respiration and/or heart rate.


It can resolve without treatment.Untreated septicemia can quickly progress to sepsis.


Rapidly removed from the bloodstream by the immune system.Antibiotics will be used to treat the bacterial infection that is causing septicemia.


Caused by Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, Haemophilus, E. coli, dental procedures, herpes (including herpetic whitlow), urinary tract infections, peritonitis, Clostridium difficile colitis, intravenous drug use, and colorectal cancer.Staphylococci, are thought to cause more than 50% of cases of sepsis. Other commonly implicated bacteria include Streptococcus pyogenes, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella species and even Candida spp.

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11 thoughts on “Differences Between Bacteremia and Septicemia”

  1. I just got out of the hospital for the second time for septicemia. I’ve been on IV Rocephin (ceftriaxone) for the past almost two weeks and still have another two weeks to go (I have a PICC line and am now doing IV infusions once a day at home). It was scary stuff because at first nobody would tell me what was going on. I went to the ER because I had nausea, vomiting, symptoms of a virus that weren’t getting better, plus insanely high blood sugar (type 1 diabetic). In the ER, I found I was in diabetic ketoacidosis, something I’ve never experienced in my 22 years as a diabetic. I had no idea what the symptoms for that are. I know now. Once the ER doctors got the DKA under control, they realized I had something else and cultured my blood. That’s when they found a raging Klebsiella infection. I was in for a week before being let out on New Year’s Eve. I was back in the hospital a day later with the same symptoms I arrived with the first time. Another week of IV antibiotics (Rocephin and Vancomycin) and the infectious diseases doctor decided I could go home with a PICC line and IV infusion syringes.

    So far so good but if I had it to do over, I think I’d have gone to the hospital way before I did. I was bedridden at home for two weeks prior, with what two urgent care doctors plus a telehealth doctor thought was a virus although I didn’t have any respiratory symptoms at any time. When I was no longer able to eat or drink and was throwing up water right after drinking it, I finally went to the ER. Folks, don’t wait. If I’d waited just a few more days, I likely would have died. It was scary and my prognosis is guarded even now. I find out in two weeks whether or not I stay on IV antibiotics or if I’m good to go. Even at that, I understand I may have complications arise in anywhere from days to months from now. Take care of yourselves!

  2. Interesting to see that bacteremia can resolve on its own? I’m on day 5 in the hospital being treated for this condition
    which was diagnosed as staph induced on some fancy antibiotics. Wonder what the doctor would say about this article. Antibiotics can be life-giving in emergencies but was this necessary for my cost as a single mom and time lost spentin the hospital affecting my job?? fed up with everything being antibiotic-driven…

    • The bacteria would not have been introduced ‘on’ the antibiotics. They were either already on your skin and poor skin preparation could have enabled them to enter your blood stream or they could have been on the person’s hands who inserted the IV cannula to give you the antibiotics and they may not have effectively cleaned their hands prior to inserting the cannula. However, once you have an IV cannula in place, the bacteria on your skin near the entry site start multiplying again, even after good skin cleaning prior to insertion of the cannula, and these can then make their way into your bloodstream. The longer the cannula stays in the more a risk of bacteria spreading. This is why they should move the cannula site at regular intervals between 48 and 72 hours.

    • bactremia needs to be treated with antibiotics. Less life threatenning then.septecemia. That is if the bacteria gets on the blood stream and multiplies.
      Both are difficult but the latter very life threatenning.
      We all worry about work but I learned the hard way your health comes first or no work.
      I would put my focus on getting healthier first especially if you want to be around a lot longer.
      Doesnt matter how strong we want to be. You need to be strong to get through this.
      Be involved in your treatment and ask a lot of questions.
      No one wants a mistake so the more knowledge you have the better you can protect yourself.

    • Registered Nurse of 30+ years here. NEVER have I heard of Bacteremia resolving on its own. You are where you belong! Rest, get well and build your strength up after you complete your course of i.v. antibiotics.

      • Transient bacteremia can be seen with dental cleaning and procedures and does not require treatment; is the reason for some dental patients getting prophylactic antibiotics though.

    • Dr. G. P. Malik,
      It is diagnosed by Blood culture, blood cell count, blood oxygen level . Also, blood clot diagnosis, chest X-ray, electrolyte test can help.

    • You would know by blood testing mainly. Also, I am assuming you would be feeling worse as there are stages of Septecemia and it multiplies quicker.
      Treatment would be more aggressive. Usually 6 weeks antibiotics and if certain body parts or organs are effected they sometimes need to remove bacteria from the area.
      Always ask questions and knowledge is what will help you protect yourself.

  3. It would have been nice if you have described the concentration of bacteria per unit of blood for bacteremia and septicemia.


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