What Is the Treatment for Bacteremia?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

The main treatment for bacteremia is antibiotic medication. This may be given orally or intravenously, depending on the severity of the condition. In many cases treatment for bacteremia may not be required, since most cases spontaneously go away on their own. Secondary treatment may also be necessary for conditions which may come as a result of bacteremia.

Bacteremia is a condition in which bacteria invades the bloodstream. In many cases this is harmless and the infection resolving itself over time, or the bacteria may not be a harmful variety. In these situations treatment may not be necessary. If fever is present, medication may be given to lower it.

In cases where volatile bacteria are infecting the bloodstream rather than the harmless variety, antibiotics may be used in the treatment of bacteremia in order to destroy it. These antibiotics may be delivered through intravenous means or it may be taken orally. A broad spectrum antibiotic is often the first line of defense, although more serious infections may be treated using a medication more targeted toward a specific bacteria.

Treatment for bacteremia can also involve the treatment of any secondary conditions resulting from bacterial infection. Potential secondary infections may include sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. These are serious medical conditions which can cause severe symptoms, and if left untreated, are potentially fatal. This is especially true of young children.

Most secondary infections are also treated with antibiotics. Additionally, other treatments may also be needed to alleviate any severe symptoms which may result. For instance, pneumonia may require patients to be intubated to help them with breathing. The lungs may also have to be suctioned to remove mucus.

Bacteremia often goes undetected because symptoms can be very vague or nonexistent. A fever may be present, either mild or severe, depending on the severity of the infection and the type of bacteria causing it. Medication may be given for this reason to lower the fever and prevent complications. There is generally no sign of specific infection in mild cases. Antibiotics may be given to those even with mild infections, even before a diagnosis, in order to kill any bacteria to prevent more serious infections later on.

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