The key difference between septicemia and bacteremia and toxemia is that septicemia is a systemic infection where a bacterium enters into the bloodstream, multiply and spreads throughout the body, while bacteremia is the simple presence of bacteria in the blood circulating in the body, and toxemia is the presence of toxins in the blood circulating in the body.
Bacteria are present in the bloodstream and circulate in the body. Most often, bacteria are present in small numbers, and they are removed by the body on its own. Symptoms are not shown on such occasions. But pathogenic bacteria cause serious infections that trigger immune responses in the body. Septicemia, bacteremia, and toxemia are such infections, and these can be life-threatening. Such infections show serious symptoms and cause severe complications leading to death.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Septicemia
3. What is Bacteremia
4. What is Toxemia
5. Similarities – Septicemia and Bacteremia and Toxemia
6. Septicemia vs Bacteremia vs Toxemia in Tabular Form
7. Summary – Septicemia vs Bacteremia vs Toxemia
What is Septicemia?
Septicemia is an infection due to blood poisoning by bacteria. It is the most extreme response of the body to an infection. The onset of septicemia produces symptoms such as fever, chills, excessive sweating, weakness, numbness, and a decrease in blood pressure. Typically, gram-negative bacteria cause septicemia. They release toxic substances to blood, which trigger immune responses. This causes blood clotting in blood vessels, reducing the blood flow to organs and tissues. Generally, septicemia occurs following surgery or after an infectious disease. This indicates the infection is severe and acts against the body’s immune system; thus, it requires immediate medical intervention.
Septicemia has an invasive mechanism with the widespread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the surrounding. Septicemia is often caused due to multiple infections and not by just a single microorganism. Therefore, a broad spectrum of antibiotics is required as treatment. Septicemia requires immediate treatment therapy with appropriate antibiotics and surgery. If not treated promptly, it causes septic shock and eventually death.
What is Bacteremia?
Bacteremia is the presence of viable bacteria in the bloodstream circulating in the body. Most bacteremia episodes are caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Salmonella. Bacteremia causes severe infections, including pneumonia, brain abscesses, septic arthritis, meningitis, cellulitis, osteomyelitis, and sepsis, which results in death. Bacteremia is caused by ordinary activities such as vigorous tooth brushing, dental or medical procedures, bacterial infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, skin abscesses, and contaminated needles used to inject recreational drugs. The presence of heart valve abnormalities also causes bacteremia. Bacteremia usually shows no symptoms; however, individuals with a high risk of bacteremia show high fever, shaking chills, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, gastrointestinal symptoms, rapid breathing, and abnormal mental state.
Bacteremia is diagnosed through cultures of blood samples or other samples such as urine and sputum. Treatment is followed by the diagnosed results, and antibiotics are given to the specific bacterial strain. Bacteremia is prevented following proper dental procedures and surgical treatment.
What is Toxemia?
Toxemia, which is also known as preeclampsia during pregnancy, is a severe problem that causes high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. It is mainly a complication caused during pregnancy. Toxemia causes high blood pressure and damages various organs in the body, such as the liver and kidney. Toxemia usually results after 20 weeks of pregnancy or postpartum. Symptoms of toxemia include high blood pressure, presence of protein in the urine, nausea, headache, visual changes, swelling of hands, feet, and face, breathing difficulties, and loss of consciousness. Such symptoms vary in severity and can develop abruptly or gradually. Age group under 15 or over 35 years, family history, overweight and obesity, primigravida or multiparity, and ethnicity are risk factors of toxemia. However, individuals who smoke are at a lower risk of toxemia compared to non-smokers among women.
Complications of toxemia include diseases in the immune system, damage to blood vessels which leads to insufficient blood flow to the uterus, and compromised placental formation. As a result, the arteries of pregnant women may narrow and cause high blood pressure. Severe complications of toxemia such as excessive bleeding due to low platelet count, damages in lungs, liver, kidney, eyes, and heart, eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome may result in a stroke, coma, seizures, and heart attack, which eventually causes death. Toxemia is diagnosed by multiple blood pressure readings, blood tests, and urine tests.
A special diagnosis called fetal ultrasound is also carried out to monitor the health and growth of the fetus. Toxemia is treated using antibiotics and blood pressure medications; however, serious complications require blood transfusions and immediate delivery of the baby. Intake of a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and managing pre-existing chronic diseases will help in preventing toxemia.
What are the Similarities Between Septicemia Bacteremia and Toxemia?
- Bacteria are the causative agents of septicemia, bacteremia, and toxemia.
- Severe complications take place in all three conditions leading to death.
- All are associated with blood.
- Moreover, all are treated with antibiotics.
- All show common symptoms such as fever and chills and fluctuating blood pressure.
- Blood tests are carried out to diagnose septicemia, bacteremia, and toxemia.
What is the Difference Between Septicemia and Bacteremia and Toxemia?
Septicemia is a clinically significant form of bacteremia that is complicated by toxemia. Septicemia is an infectious situation where pathogenic bacteria or microorganisms enter the bloodstream and multiply and spread through the body. However, bacteremia is a situation where bacteria are present in the bloodstream, and if left untreated, they can spread throughout the body. Bacteremia is not as dangerous as septicemia. Meanwhile, toxemia only takes place in women during pregnancy or postpartum. Thus, this is the key difference between septicemia and bacteremia and toxemia.
The below infographic presents the differences between septicemia and bacteremia and toxemia in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Septicemia vs Bacteremia vs Toxemia
Septicemia is an infection due to blood poisoning by bacteria. It is the most extreme response of a body to an infection. Bacteremia is the presence of viable bacteria in the bloodstream circulating in the body. Toxemia, which is also known as preeclampsia during pregnancy, is a severe problem that causes high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. So, this is the key difference between septicemia and bacteremia and toxemia. These infections are caused by the influence of bacteria. If left untreated, septicemia, bacteremia, and toxemia can result in death.
1. “Sepsis-Mikrothomben1” By Emergency doc – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Streptococcus pneumoniae – A causative bacteria of meningitis” By www.scientificanimations.com – (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia