Bacteria, viruses or fungi that spread through the bloodstream cause bloodstream infections. Some blood infections are fairly harmless while others are life-threatening. Germs that cause these infections may come from outside the body or from inside the body where they normally live.
Bloodstream infections can be serious for any child, but the risk of worse outcomes is greater in children with:
- Underdeveloped immune systems
- Illnesses such as a urinary tract infection
- Conditions such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
There are many types of bloodstream infections including:
- Catheter-related infections (from the use of tubes placed in veins)
The symptoms of bloodstream infection include:
- Body aches
- Stomach pain
- High heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Low blood pressure
Diagnosis of Bloodstream Infection
Pediatric infectious disease specialists at Riley at IU Health use the following tests to diagnose bloodstream infections:
- Blood tests. These tests are performed to see if bacteria are in the blood.
- Urinalysis. In this test, a urine sample is looked at under a microscope and cultured to check for bacteria.
- Imaging tests. A chest X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan may be performed to check for infections in organs.
- Spinal tap. In this test, a sample of spinal fluid is tested for meningitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
If your child has a blood infection, intravenous (IV) antibiotics that fight against a wide range of germs are the first course of treatment. Once blood cultures identify a specific disease-causing germ, your child receives more targeted antibiotics.
The duration of treatment depends on the type of bacteria found in the blood and the overall health of the child. Your child's pediatric infectious disease specialist will decide if your child should receive treatment in the hospital or at home. Your child should take all medicines as directed and have follow-up visits with the doctor
Key Points to Remember
Key Points to Remember
- Bacteria, viruses or fungi can cause blood infections that spread through the bloodstream to organs and other parts of the body.
- Bloodstream infections are serious for a child with a weak immune system or other health conditions.
- IV antibiotics are the first line of treatment, because they work against a wide range of germs.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.