What is the Difference Between Bacteremia and Sepsis?

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Post-Sepsis Syndrome: Symptoms & Treatment

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Bacteremia & Sepsis
  • 0:20 Definitions
  • 0:52 Sepsis: Symptoms
  • 1:52 Bacterial Sepsis
  • 2:42 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Bacteremia and sepsis are sometimes confused. In this video, we'll define these terms, differentiate between them and discuss how they might be (but don't have to be) connected.

Bacteremia & Sepsis

Have you ever heard of bacteremia and sepsis? Some people erroneously use them synonymously. While the two terms are not synonyms, they can be related to one another. Let's begin by taking a look at how bacteremia and sepsis differ from each other.


Bacteremia refers to the presence of bacteria in the blood. 'Bacter-' refers to bacteria and '-emia' refers to a condition or state of the blood. So bacteremia is bacteria in the bloodstream. That's it. Many times, bacteremia doesn't cause any signs or symptoms.

Sepsis is a term that is slightly more complex. The word sepsis comes to us from the Greek word 'sepein' or 'sepsis,' which means putrefaction, or the breakdown, decomposition, or rotting of an organic substance due to bacterial action.

Sepsis: Symptoms

Sepsis is a clinical syndrome, a collection of signs and symptoms. Signs are objective pieces of evidence that point to a problem. For example, temperature can be measured objectively with a thermometer. Thus, fever is a sign of a disease. Symptoms are subjective pieces of evidence with respect to a condition. Pain is a symptom because we can't measure it objectively, but instead rely on patients' interpretations of their pain to quantify it for us.

The signs and symptoms associated with sepsis result from an overwhelming or exaggerated immune system response to a systemic, or body-wide, infection. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • A rapid heart rate
  • A rapid and shallow breathing rate
  • Confusion
  • Hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure), known in severe cases of sepsis as septic shock.

Think of sepsis as the immune system's overwhelming reaction to an infectious agent or toxic product. The infectious agent is commonly bacterial in origin.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account