The main difference between bacteremia and septicemia is that bacteremia is the simple presence of bacteria in the blood whereas septicemia is the presence and the multiplication of bacteria in the blood.
Bacteremia and septicemia are two situations where bacteria is present in the blood. Bacteremia is not dangerous while septicemia is dangerous and life-threatening.
Key Areas Covered
- What is Bacteremia
- Definition, Features, Importance
- What is Septicemia
- Definition, Features, Importance
- Similarities Between Bacteremia and Septicemia
- Outline of Common Features
- Difference Between Bacteremia and Septicemia
- Comparison of Key Differences
Bacteremia, Bacteria, Septicemia
What is Bacteremia
Bacteremia is the presence of viable bacteria in the blood. Blood is sterile and the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream is always abnormal. However, bacteremia normally lacks symptoms. Asymptomatic bacteremia can occur in normal daily activities such as conducting oral hygiene and after minor medical procedures.
In a healthy person, these infections are transient and cause no further sequelae. But, these bloodstream infections can evolve into septicemia when the immune response mechanisms fail to remove bacteria from the bloodstream.
What is Septicemia
Septicemia is the presence and multiplication of bacteria in the bloodstream. Normally, bacteria can enter the bloodstream as a severe complication of infections such as pneumonia or meningitis, during surgery (especially when involving mucous membranes such as the gastrointestinal tract), or due to catheters and other foreign bodies entering the arteries or veins (including during intravenous drug abuse).
Bacteremia can have several important health consequences. Immune response to the bacteria causes sepsis and septic shock, which has a high mortality rate. Bacteria can also spread via the blood to other parts of the body (which is called the hematogenous spread), causing infections away from the original site of infection, such as endocarditis or osteomyelitis. However, the treatment for septicemia is with antibiotics, and prevention with antibiotic prophylaxis can be given in high-risk situations.
Similarities Between Bacteremia and Septicemia
- Both bacteremia and septicemia are types of infections characterized by the presence of bacteria in the blood.
- The two conditions are characterized by the number of bacteria in the bloodstream.
Difference Between Bacteremia and Septicemia
Bacteremia is the presence of viable bacteria in the circulating blood while septicemia is the clinical name for blood poisoning by bacteria.
Bacteremia is the simple presence of bacteria in the blood while septicemia is the presence and the multiplication of bacteria in the bloodstream.
While bacteremia is not dangerous, septicemia is life-threatening.
A fewer number of bacteria is present in bacteremia while a higher number of bacteria is present in septicemia.
Bacteremia occurs due to a wound or infection, or through a surgical procedure or injection, while septicemia occurs from infections throughout the body, including infections in the lungs, abdomen, and urinary tract.
Moreover, bacteremia does not produce toxins while septicemia produces toxins.
Bacteremia does not produce symptoms while septicemia shows symptoms like chills, fever, prostration, very fast respiration, and/or heart rate.
The immune system can clear out bacteremia while antibiotics are important in treating septicemia.
In brief, bacteremia and septicemia are two disease conditions that arise due to the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream. Bacteremia is only the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream and is not a dangerous disease condition. Bacteria do not produce toxins as well. However, in septicemia, a higher number of bacteria is there in the bloodstream and these bacteria can produce toxins. Septicemia is dangerous since bacteria can multiply inside the body. Thus, this is the main difference between bacteremia and septicemia.
- Smith DA, Nehring SM. Bacteremia. [Updated 2022 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan.
- Septicemia. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2019, November 19). Retrieved August 29, 2022.