What is Bacterial Infection?
Bacterial infections are the proliferation of harmful strains of bacteria in the body. Bacteria can infect any area of the body. Bacterial infections are common and have varying effects. There are a number of different bacteria that can cause infections.
Bacteria are microorganisms that can enter your body and cause disease. This infection usually triggers the immune response. There is also a type of bacteria that helps you digest food and protect your body from harmful bacteria.
Bacteria come in three basic shapes: rod-shaped (basil), spherical (cocci), or helical (spirilla). Bacteria can also be divided as gram-positive or gram-negative. Gram-positive bacteria have a thick cell wall whereas gram-negative bacteria do not
Gram staining, bacterial culture with antibiotic sensitivity determination, and other tests such as genetic analysis are used to identify bacterial strains and help determine the appropriate treatment.
Causes of Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infection can be caused by numerous factors, as these microorganisms can attack your body in a variety of ways. Pneumonia, meningitis, and food poisoning are some types of diseases that may be caused by harmful bacteria.
You may get a bacterial infection from an infected person. Generally, you can get bacteria from other people in the same environment or from contaminated food and drink.
Anyone can get sick when exposed to bacteria, but having a weak immune system or taking immunosuppressant drugs can make you more susceptible to severe bacterial infections.
When to See a Doctor for Bacterial Infections
A bacterial infection can be diagnosed based on your symptoms. The location, timing, and severity of your symptoms may have typical characteristics of a certain bacterial infection.
Your doctor needs to establish a diagnosis before prescribing antibiotics by taking a fluid sample, which will then be examined in the laboratory.
A throat or ear swab test may be performed for further lab testing. A swab test may also be performed on the infected skin area. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be diagnosed by taking a sample of fluid from the affected area.
Your urine sample can help identify bacterial infections in your bladder and kidneys. In some situations, a fecal sample may also identify the bacteria that causes persistent gastrointestinal disorders.
Symptoms of Bacterial Infections
Children and adults can develop bacterial infections. Bacteria can infect any area of the body, including your skin, bladder, lungs, intestines, brain, and other areas. Bacterial infections can also spread throughout the blood – causing sepsis.
You may experience common symptoms of bacterial infection, such as fever, chills, and fatigue due to bacterial infections in your body.
Apart from the generalized symptoms, you may experience the localized effects of the infected area. Pain, swelling, redness, and organ dysfunction are common localized symptoms.
You may experience pain in your skin when you have a bacterial skin infection; chest pain when you have a lung infection; and abdominal pain when you have an intestinal infection.
Redness or swelling usually occurs in your skin, throat, or ears. The internal organs may also become red and swollen when you get a bacterial infection. Even though you cannot see it, you may feel pain or other effects in the surrounding area.
For example, you may experience a persistent cough with thick phlegm. This may be a sign of a bacterial infection attacking your respiratory tract, such as your throat, bronchi, or lungs.
Bacterial infections may also often cause diminished or altered function of the infected parts of the body. You may experience trouble concentrating if you have meningitis (an infection around the brain) or decreased kidney function if you have pyelonephritis (kidney infection).
Different bacterial infections have a characteristic disease course. Symptoms can begin immediately or after a delay due to the incubation period. In addition, the symptoms can worsen rapidly or may progress slowly.
Treatment for Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections usually resolve quickly, even without treatment. However, many bacterial infections require a prescription for antibiotics. You may also need supportive care for symptoms such as fever, pain, swelling, coughing, or dehydration.
Untreated bacterial infections can spread or linger in your body – which causes major health problems. Although rare, untreated bacterial infections can be life-threatening.
Antibiotic selection is based on the type of bacteria involved. Most antibiotics work against more than one type of bacteria, not all of them.
There are various ways for you to take antibiotics. They are available to be taken by mouth, used topically (on the skin or eye), and intravenously (IV).
If you are using a prescription antibiotic, be sure to use it as directed by your doctor. You are advised not to use a skin antibiotic on your eyes. It is important to take your medication for the complete duration of your prescribed therapy.
Treatment Cost for Bacterial Infections
Treatment cost for a bacterial infection will depend on your diagnosis, medications, hospital fees, and your choice of internist.
For more details regarding the estimated treatment cost for bacterial infections at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Bacterial Infections
You can prevent bacterial infection by maintaining your hygiene. Here’s what you can do:
- Wash your hands with soap and clean water. You can also use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if you are unable to wash your hands. Be sure to clean your fingertips, under your nails, and between your fingers.
- Dry your hands and wrists thoroughly after washing them.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, then throw it in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your elbow to cover your mouth or nose.
- Wash and bandage all your wounds properly. Any serious cuts, animal bites, or human bites should be examined by a doctor.
- Do not squeeze a wound, or pop a pimple.
- Do not share plates, glasses or cutlery with other people.
- Avoid direct contact with napkins, tissues, handkerchiefs, or similar items used by other people.
Home Remedies for Bacterial Infections
During your treatment at home, be sure to take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Do not change your dose.
Your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling due to your bacterial infection. If you have a fever, your doctor may also recommend medication to lower your fever. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce symptoms of fever, swelling, and pain.
If you have a persistent cough, your doctor may recommend an anti-cough medicine. You may also need IV fluids if you are dehydrated. If you have an abscess, you may need surgery. This is a simple procedure to treat abscesses on the skin. Deep abscesses, such as the ones found in the intestines or brain, may require surgical removal.
Talk to your general practitioner or internist at home and abroad through Smarter Health if you have symptoms of a bacterial infection.
Smarter Health‘s teleconsultation service allows you to get medical treatment whenever you need it without having to leave your house – thus minimizing the spread of COVID-19.