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Bacteremia is when there is bacteria in the blood. Bacteremia happens when germs from infections in your body travel to your blood. It can also be caused by a catheter or drain that is inserted into the body and left in place. Examples of catheters and drains include a port-a-cath, PICC line, dialysis catheter, abdominal drain, or a urinary catheter.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure or lose consciousness.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You feel extremely weak and have a hard time moving.

Return to the emergency department immediately if:

  • Your symptoms, such as fever, get worse, even if you are taking medicine to treat the infection.
  • You stop urinating or urinate very little.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics may be given to treat an infection. You may be given antibiotics through an IV for several weeks. You may instead be given oral antibiotics. Do not stop taking your antibiotics when you feel better. Take all of your medicine until it is finished. This may prevent the infection from returning or getting worse.
  • Acetaminophen helps decrease pain and fever. Taking too much acetaminophen can hurt your liver. Read labels so that you know the active ingredients in each medicine that you take. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen. Ask your healthcare provider before taking over-the-counter medicine if you are also taking pain medicine prescribed (ordered) for you.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent bacteremia:

  • Care for catheters and drains as directed. Wash your hands before and after you touch your catheter or drain. Follow directions for dressing changes and bathing. Watch for signs and symptoms of infection such as pus, fever, swelling, pain or drainage. Report symptoms immediately to your healthcare provider.
  • Get vaccinated. Get all recommended vaccinations. The pneumonia and influenza vaccines may prevent lung infections that could cause bacteremia.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for more blood tests. This will tell your healthcare provider if the antibiotics are working. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Bacteremia (Aftercare Instructions)

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