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Bacteremia

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Bacteremia 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.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call your local emergency number (911 or have someone else call) 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.

Seek care 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.

Call your doctor if:

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

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics may be given to treat the infection. 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 decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • 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:

  • Wash your hands often. Wash your hands several times each day. Wash after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food. Use soap and water every time. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Wash the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the fingernails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
    Handwashing
  • 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.
  • Clean surfaces often. Clean doorknobs, countertops, cell phones, and other surfaces that are touched often. Use a disinfecting wipe, a single-use sponge, or a cloth you can wash and reuse. Use disinfecting cleaners if you do not have wipes. You can create a disinfecting cleaner by mixing 1 part bleach with 10 parts water.
  • Ask about vaccines you may need. Get all recommended vaccinations. The pneumonia and influenza vaccines may prevent lung infections that could cause bacteremia. Your healthcare provider can recommend other vaccines and tell you when to get them.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

You may need to return for more blood tests. This will show 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.

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