Tools and Resources

Blood poisoning: When to see a doctor

I suspect I have blood poisoning. Should I see my doctor?

"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
  • Chills
  • 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.

Updated: 4/25/2012

© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to content provided to this site by Clinic Health Information. Use thereof signifies your agreement to these terms of use.