Bacterial Infection

Table of Contents

Overview

The most common form of infection is bacterial. Bacterial infections are not all the same because of the different varieties of bacteria. Each variety of bacteria may have a different effect on the body and may infect a different type of cell.

The question many have is what is bacteria?

The simple explanation is that bacteria is a small organism that invades the body. Once in the body, it causes an infection that starts an immune response to protect the body.

It can affect the body by causing different symptoms. These symptoms include sore throats, skin irritations, and lung problems. Other parts of the body like internal organs can be affected as well. Some common bacterial infections are:

  • Strep Throat
  • Ear Infections
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  • Bacterial Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)

The body also has good bacteria that help natural functioning. These types of bacteria may help the body digest food or act as protection against harmful bacteria.

Keep in mind that the best way to prevent bacterial infections is to practice good hygiene. That means washing hands and keeping all personal items clean.

 

Causes

Bacterial infections come from the bacteria entering the body. There are different ways that bacteria can enter the body. For example, they can enter your body through your skin. This occurs if there is a cut, a bug bite, and even a surgical wound.

Bacteria can also enter the body through the air and infect the airways. In this case, the bacteria enters through the nasal passage or the mouth.

Other ways the body becomes exposed to the bacteria can include interactions with people, the environment, and eating and drinking contaminated food.

Another cause of getting a bacterial infection is having a suppressed immune system. It puts a person at a higher risk of developing a serious bacterial infection. An example of this is if a person develops Covid-19, which is a virus that can weaken the immune system. The body becomes weakened and can develop bacterial pneumonia. The body is now fighting a viral and bacterial infection at the same time.

 

Symptoms

Bacterial infections can affect every part of the body. This includes the bladder, brain, intestines, lungs, and skin. It can also spread into the blood and cause an infection called septicemia.  This can lead to sepsis, which occurs when the body is having a severe response to an infection.

Common signs of a bacterial infection include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Having swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or other places
  • Headache
  • Feeling nauseated or vomiting

Bacterial infections are either generalized or localized.

 

Generalized Symptoms

A generalized symptom is where it affects the entire body. This is where a person feels like they have the chills, feverish and fatigued.

 

Localized Symptoms

Localized bacterial infection symptoms have a local effect on the body. This can include pain, swelling, change in color, and problems with organs that are in one area.

Pain is very common with a bacterial infection. Pain can occur in the skin with a bacterial skin infection. Lung infection can cause pain when breathing. Intestinal infection can cause stomach/abdominal pains.

Bacterial infections have localized symptoms. They will cause swelling on or in the body like the throat, skin, or ears.  Internal organs will cause pain due to the swelling from the bacterial infection.

Bacterial infection in the respiratory tract will affect the throat, bronchi, or lungs. This will result in mucus which causes the body to cough.

 

Treatment

Most bacterial infections get better by themselves without treatment. However, in some cases, antibiotics are needed to treat them. The antibiotics will help kill the bacteria or prevent the bacteria from spreading.

Doctors will choose what antibiotic treatment will work best with the bacterial infection. The antibiotics available for treating different infections are numerous. The doctor will take into consideration:

  • What kind, where, and how severe the infection is.
  • If the bacteria is resistant to classes of antibiotics.
  • If the patient has taken the antibiotic in the past.
  • Any known allergic reaction to the antibiotic.
  • Health conditions that might interact with the antibiotic.

 

Medications

Doctors are being more mindful of antibiotic resistance. This is a growing problem. Thus, antibiotics are prescribed only for serious infections.

Prescribed antibiotics treat specific bacterial infections. When used they are safe and have few side effects.

There are classes of antibiotics that treat bacterial infections. The classes of antibiotics group those that have similar chemical and therapeutic properties. The classes include:

  • Penicillins
  • Tetracyclines
  • Cephalosporins
  • Quinolones
  • Lincomycins
  • Macrolides
  • Sulfonamides
  • Glucopetites
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Carbapenems

There are many antibiotics that doctors can choose from for their patients. The top 10 most common antibiotics include:

There are a few over-the-counter antibiotics (OTC) that treat skin bacterial infections. These include:

  • Neosporin
  • Polysporin
  • Triple antibiotic
  • Neosporin Plus Pain Relief Ointment

There are no OTC approved in the United States that treat other bacterial infections like those that affect other parts of the body besides the skin.

A bacterial infection left untreated can become severe and even life-threatening. It is a good idea to see a doctor if a person has symptoms of a bacterial infection. A doctor can treat and prescribe a treatment that can help the patient.

 

Sources:

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  2. Sepsis. Bacterial Infections. January 2022. Available at Sepsis.org.
  3. Mayoclinic. Coronavirus disease 2019. 2022. Available at Mayoclinc.org.
  4. Webmd. Sepsis. June 2020. Available at Webmd.com.
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  14. Drugs. Cleocin. July 2021. Available at Drugs.com.

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