"Blood poisoning" is not a medical term. But as the term is usually used, it refers to the presence of bacteria in the blood (bacteremia) — and not a poisonous substance in the blood. However, bacteremia is a serious illness and requires prompt medical attention.
When to see a doctor
If you recently had a medical or dental procedure or injection and have any of the following signs and symptoms, see your doctor right away:
- Sudden, high fever
- Rapid heart rate
- Nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain
- A feeling or appearance of serious illness
A diagnosis of bacteremia is usually confirmed by a blood culture. Treatment requires hospitalization and includes intravenous antibiotics. Without prompt treatment, bacteremia can quickly progress to severe sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition.