What is the difference between Sepsis and Septicemia?

 

There is some confusion though. When people call 999 experiencing an infection of the blood, they often describe Septicemia in what they are seeing however they use the term 'Sepsis'. Sepsis and Septicemia sometimes are used interchangeably, but they're not truly interchangeable—although the terms are closely related, their definitions are different.

Sepsis and Septicemia are medical terms that refer to infections (Septicemia) and your body's response to those infections (Sepsis). Both words originally stem from a Greek word, sepsin, which literally means "poison in putrid blood" and both can be life threatening.

Sepsis is defined as an extreme inflammatory response to infection. When your body is threatened with a severe infection your immune system responds by releasing chemical messengers to sound the alarm. These chemical messengers produce inflammation throughout your body. Sepsis can also be produced by an infection that is present only in one part of the body, such as the lungs. The most common causes of infections which trigger Sepsis are UTI's and chest infections. The inflammation in Sepsis can produce blood clots and leaking blood vessels. Without proper treatment, this can damage your organs and potentially kill you. It can progress to Septic Shock with your blood pressure dropping and your bodily systems starting to shut down. Your lungs, liver, and kidneys can fail. Therefore, Sepsis is a medical emergency and without doubt seek medical attention either in hospital or call 999.

Septicemia is defined as having bacteria in the bloodstream that cause Sepsis. Some people call Septicemia "blood poisoning," and this term is pretty accurate since the overwhelming bacterial infection can indeed poison your blood. Septicemia is the name of the infection itself.

Its important to remember what the NHS says:

"Sepsis can affect multiple organs or the entire body, even without blood poisoning or septicaemia. "Sepsis can also be caused by viral or fungal infections, although bacterial infections are by far the most common cause."

Doctors and other medical personnel no longer use the term Septicemia much. Instead, to eliminate the inevitable confusion surrounding such like-sounding terms as Sepsis and Septicemia, clinicians often use "sepsis" to refer to the inflammatory response, and "bacteremia" to refer to the bacteria present in the bloodstream.  However, some doctors and hospitals do still use the older term "Septicemia," in some cases interchangeably with Sepsis. If you're confused about what exactly your doctor means, you should ask her to explain this to you.