Blood poisoning: early identification and treatment are crucial

Every year, around 20 000 people in Switzerland develop blood poisoning. One fifth of cases result in death. Early diagnosis and treatment hold the key to avoiding severe complications.

If bacteria or viruses enter the body – for example through an open wound – the immune system begins to fight the intruders. This results in inflammation, the body’s own immune response. In rare cases, this defence mechanism gets out of control and antibodies spread through the blood to all parts of the body, meaning that the inflammation also spreads throughout the entire body. This is known as blood poisoning or sepsis. In the worst case, the antibodies may start to attack the body’s own organs, which can be fatal. A race against time then begins with antibiotics or antiviral medication.

Symptoms of blood poisoning

Blood poisoning can be caused by infections in various parts of the body, such as the lungs, throat, urinary tract or abdomen, or by an injury that initially appears to be harmless. Of course, an infection does not automatically indicate blood poisoning. Anyone who has an infection, however, should be especially on the lookout for possible symptoms. Signs of blood poisoning may include:

  • High temperature (particularly if it cannot be lowered, or only with difficulty, despite the correct dose of medication being taken)
  • Shivering
  • Very strong feeling of malaise that gets worse despite medication
  • Tiny, pinprick-like spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • Accelerated breathing and heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion and drowsiness
If these symptoms occur in someone with an infection, they should always go to hospital as soon as possible. The treatment of blood poisoning requires immediate medical care. The earlier a case of sepsis can be treated, the better the chances of survival and the chances of recovery with fewer long-term effects.
In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.