Bacterial infections: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and


Bacterial infections are common, but they are not all created equal. There are many types of bacteria, and each type can affect the body in different ways. And there are many ways to deal with them.

But what are bacteria?

These are small organisms that can invade the body and cause infections. This forces your body to form a protective immune response .

You also have "good" bacteria that belong to your body and help you. These bacteria digest food and protect the body from harmful bacteria.

This article explains what you need to know about bacterial infections. You will learn about the symptoms, causes, and types of bacterial infections. Diagnostic tests and treatment options are also included.

Get Medication Information / Laura Porter


Bacterial infections can develop in children and adults of all ages. Bacteria can infect all areas of the body, including:

  • Bladder
  • Brain
  • Bowels
  • Lungs
  • Leather

The bacterial infection can also spread through the blood, causing a life-threatening blood infection called sepsis . This, in turn, can lead to sepsis , a condition that occurs when your body seriously reacts to an infection.

May feel generalized symptoms as a result of a bacterial infection. Common symptoms affect the entire body and include fever, chills, and fatigue.

Local symptoms

You may also experience local symptoms (local effects) of a bacterial infection.

These symptoms affect the specific area or areas of the body that are infected. Pain, swelling, redness, and organ dysfunction are typical localized symptoms.

Pain is common with bacterial infections. Skin pain can occur with a bacterial skin infection . A lung infection can cause pain when you breathe. And you may feel pain in your stomach (stomach) with an intestinal (or intestinal) infection .

You may easily notice redness or swelling in visible parts of your body, such as your skin, throat, or ears.

Internal organs can also become inflamed and swollen with a bacterial infection. Although you cannot see it, you may feel pain or other effects in these areas.

Consider a bacterial respiratory tract infection that can affect your throat, bronchial tubes , or lungs. As a result, you may develop a productive (wet) cough with thick mucus .

Bacterial infections can reduce or impair the ability of the affected body part to function.

For example, meningitis (an infection that surrounds the brain) can affect your concentration. Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) can worsen kidney function.


Time is another factor that differs from one bacterial infection to another. Symptoms may appear immediately or after a delay caused by the incubation period . And symptoms can get worse quickly or progress slowly.


Symptoms of a bacterial infection can be generalized or nonspecific and include fever, chills, and fatigue. Symptoms can also affect specific infected areas, causing pain, redness, swelling, or problems with organ function.


The transmission (transmission) of bacteria causes bacterial infections. You can be exposed to bacteria from other people, the environment, by eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Anyone can get sick from contact with bacteria. But a weakened immune system increases the risk of serious bacterial infections.

Certain conditions and medications can suppress your immune system, weakening it. Even bacteria normally found in your body can put you at risk.

Types of bacterial infections

The severity of bacterial infections can vary widely and depends on the type of bacteria.

On the one hand, there are relatively mild illnesses like sore throats and ear infections . But bacterial infections can also cause life-threatening conditions, such as meningitis and encephalitis .

Common bacterial infections include:

  • Salmonella is an infection that is often associated with food poisoning. Undercooked poultry is a common infection method. Symptoms include severe stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Nontyphoidal Salmonella causes Salmonella. These bacteria live in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and other animals.
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) also causes gastrointestinal upset. The infection usually goes away on its own, but it can be serious or even fatal. Contaminated food, including raw vegetables, can spread the E. coli bacteria.
  • Tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis . This usually leads to a lung infection.
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria that becomes resistant to antibiotics. This is very dangerous, especially for people with weakened immune systems.
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a type of bacteria in the gut that is generally harmless. However, the use of antibiotics or a weakened immune system can cause these bacteria to overgrow. This leads to a gastrointestinal infection characterized by inflammation of the colon and persistent diarrhea.
  • Bacterial pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by several types of bacteria, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Klebsiella pneumoniae , or Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Infections are spread through airborne particles from coughing or sneezing.
  • Bacterial vaginosis is an infection of the vagina that causes itching, discharge, and pain when urinating. This is due to an imbalance in the normal bacterial flora of the vagina.
  • Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria cause stomach ulcers and chronic gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach. Acid reflux , hyperacidity, and smoking increase the risk of this bacterial infection.
  • Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
  • Vibrio vulnificus is a rare "carnivorous" bacteria found in warm seawater.

Bacterial organisms tend to infect specific areas of the body. For example, syphilis , a sexually transmitted infection, is unlikely to affect the stomach or lungs. Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib) can cause ear, throat, and lung infections. But it will not harm the skin or the bladder.


The nature of your symptoms can help your doctor diagnose a bacterial infection. The location, timing, and severity of symptoms may indicate a bacterial infection.

Your doctor may want to confirm the diagnosis before prescribing any medication for you. They can do this by taking a sample of a fluid, such as pus or mucus, and sending it to a lab. They can also use a fluid sample to check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Alternatively, they can send a swab sample for evaluation. To do this, they can take a swab from the infected throat, ear, or skin.

A urine sample can detect bacterial infections of the bladder and kidneys. A stool (fecal matter) sample can help determine the bacterial cause of persistent gastrointestinal upset.

Blood test

Sometimes blood tests can help identify infectious bacteria. Usually people have an increase in the number of white blood cells (white blood cells) with a bacterial infection. A blood test called a complete blood count (CBC) can detect an elevated white blood cell count.

But that is not all. Your doctor may also order a so-called differential blood count. This test shows if the number of certain types of white blood cells in your blood has increased.

The different types of white blood cells work together to protect your body from infection. And different infections cause an increase in different types of white blood cells. Therefore, your doctor can use this data set to determine what type of infection you have.

Visual investigation

Infectious bacteria can cause a bacterial abscess (a closed area filled with pus). If your doctor thinks you may have an abscess in or near internal organs, he may need an imaging test to determine it.

Other infectious organisms

Organisms other than bacteria can also cause infections. Some examples are viruses, parasites, protozoa, fungi, worms, and prions (infectious proteins).

Viruses are 10 to 100 times smaller than bacteria, and parasites, protozoa, and fungi are larger than bacteria.

All of these organisms look different under a microscope. Therefore, it is not surprising that they behave differently in the body.

For example, parasites have a complex life cycle. The eggs first enter the body and hatch. They can then develop into infectious worm-like organisms that invade human tissue. On the other hand, fungi are usually slow-growing long-term infections.

The most important difference between infectious microorganisms is that different treatments are used. For example, antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria. But they do not affect or cure other infectious organisms.

Watch out

Bacterial infections often clear up quickly on their own without treatment. However, you may need prescription antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection.

If left untreated, bacterial infections can spread or persist and cause serious health problems. Although rare, untreated bacterial infections can even be life-threatening.

The infection can cause symptoms such as fever, pain, swelling, cough, or dehydration. In this case, your doctor may recommend supportive therapy (such as anti-inflammatory drugs).


The type of bacteria you have will help you determine which antibiotics you need to take. Most antibiotics work against more than one type of bacteria, but not all.

There are different ways to take antibiotics. You can take them orally, topically (on the surface of the skin or eyes), or through intravenous (IV) therapy.

If you are using a prescription antibiotic, be sure to use it as directed. For example, do not apply a skin antibiotic to your eyes. It is important that you take your medications exactly as prescribed and for the duration of your prescription.

Supportive therapy

Your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever or anti- inflammatory medication. These medications can help relieve pain and swelling caused by a bacterial infection.

If you have a fever, your doctor may also recommend antipyretic medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce fever, swelling, and pain.

If you have an unbearable cough, your doctor may recommend cough medicine. And you may need IV fluids if you are dehydrated.

Sewer system

If you have an abscess, you may need surgery to treat it. This can be a simple procedure for a superficial skin abscess . But an abscess deep in the body, such as the brain or intestines, may require more extensive surgery to remove it.


Bacterial infections are incredibly common and very different from each other. The type of bacteria, its cause, location, and timing influence the course of the infection.

Even the symptoms vary greatly. Some infections can get worse and cause serious complications. Even the diagnosis and treatment options depend on the specific infection you may have.

Get the word of drug information

Most likely, you will have at least some bacterial infections in your lifetime. These infections can cause a variety of symptoms and effects. Your doctor can use diagnostic tests to determine what specific infection you have. Sometimes prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, may be needed to treat your condition.

Using an antibiotic "just in case" is never recommended if you have a bacterial infection. It is also not recommended to reuse an old recipe. Your infection can get worse if you take the wrong medicine. And you can develop bacterial resistance if you use antibiotics unnecessarily.

If you think you have a bacterial infection that needs treatment, talk to your doctor.

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