Medical Definition of Blood poisoning

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Blood poisoning: The medical term is "septicemia." No matter which of these two terms-blood poisoning or septicemia-you prefer, what is meant is the same thing, namely a "general (systemic) disease that is due to the presence and the persistence of germs (pathogenic microorganisms) or their toxins in the bloodstream." The "germs" can be bacteria (in bacteremia) or any other microscopic agent of infection capable of causing disease in humans. Another term that is very closely related to "blood poisoning" and "septicemia" is "sepsis." "Sepsis" also refers to the presence and persistence of germs or their toxins in the blood but those germs or toxins do not need to be in the blood. They may be in other tissues of the body. Blood poisoning/septicemia and sepsis are often serious. They can sometimes be life threatening diseases calling for urgent and comprehensive care.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018