Bacterial Infection

Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infection is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. This infection can cause fever, cough, and signs of inflammation, such as pain and swelling, in sufferers.

Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that can be found in water, soil, and even in the human body. Several types of bacteria are beneficial and needed by the body. However, there are also several types of bacteria that can cause infection.

Bacteria are different from viruses. Bacteria do not need human cells to live and reproduce, while viruses do. Therefore, the process of diagnosing and treating bacterial infections and viral infections can be different.

Causes of Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections occur when harmful bacteria enter the body and multiply rapidly. These bacteria can infect certain organs of the body, such as the lungs, kidneys, and even the brain.

The following are some diseases caused by bacterial infections:

  • Anthrax , which is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis
  • Lyme disease, which is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Q fever, which is caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii
  • Rheumatic fever , which is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus type A
  • Tuberculosis, which is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia , which can be caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae or Mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria
  • Vaginosis, which is caused by anaerobic bacteria
  • Meningitis , which can be caused by Streptococcus type B, Neisseria meningitidis, or Listeria monocytogenes bacteria
  • Gonorrhea, which is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Bacterial infections can be transmitted in various ways, namely:

  • Direct
    transmission of bacteria can occur when a person comes into contact with an infected person. This contact can occur through sexual intercourse, kissing, and splashing phlegm from coughing or sneezing. Pregnant women can also transmit bacteria to the fetus they contain through the placenta or contact with the birth canal during delivery.
  • Indirectly ,
    bacteria can be left on objects, such as towels, tables or doorknobs. The bacteria on these objects can be transferred when someone else touches the object and then touches their eyes, mouth or nose, before washing their hands first.
  • Food or drink
    Bacteria can pass through the feces and contaminate food or drink, then infect someone who consumes the food or drink. The type of bacteria that is transmitted through food is Salmonella typhii which causes typhus .
  • Animal bites
    Animals can be an intermediary for the transmission of bacteria, for example in Lyme disease , which is transmitted by tick bites.

Risk factors for bacterial infection

Bacterial infections can happen to anyone. However, the risk of getting a bacterial infection can increase in someone who has a weak immune system, for example because:

  • Currently taking corticosteroid drugs
  • Suffering from HIV/AIDS
  • Suffering from cancer or other conditions that affect the immune system

Apart from having a weak immune system, the risk of getting a bacterial infection can also increase in someone who has the following factors:

  • Have a medical device that is implanted or installed in the body
  • Experiencing a nutritional deficiency
  • Old age (elderly)
  • Having poor body hygiene or environmental sanitation

Bacterial Infection Symptoms

Symptoms of a bacterial infection can appear different for each person, depending on the infected organ and the type of bacteria that causes it. Some of the common symptoms that sufferers of bacterial infections can experience are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sneeze
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weak

In addition to the symptoms above, there are several specific symptoms that can be experienced when a person has a bacterial infection of the skin, such as:

  • Rash
  • redness
  • Swelling
  • Painful
  • Lumps filled with pus
  • Itchy

When to see a doctor

Check with your doctor if you have symptoms of a bacterial infection, especially if:

  • Symptoms get worse and do not improve after home treatment
  • Symptoms occur continuously or prolonged
  • Symptoms appear after being bitten by certain animals, such as fleas or mites

An examination to the doctor is also needed if you experience the following symptoms:

  • It's hard to breathe
  • Cough that lasts more than a week
  • Headache accompanied by high fever
  • Rash or swelling on the skin
  • Constant vomiting
  • Diarrhea accompanied by blood
  • Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision

Diagnosis of Bacterial Infections

The doctor will ask questions and answers about the patient's symptoms and medical history. After that, the doctor conducted a thorough physical examination.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor can carry out further tests, such as:

  • Bacterial culture test, to detect the presence of bacteria in samples of blood, urine, sputum, stool, or other body fluids
  • Gram stain test, to determine the type of bacterial infection in the body, by examining the discoloration of samples of blood, urine, sputum or other body fluids
  • Scanning with X-rays , MRI, or CT scans, to detect the presence of abnormal tissue and collections of pus (abscesses) in organs in the body
  • Biopsy , to detect conditions other than infections that may be suffered, by taking tissue samples from infected organs

Treatment of Bacterial Infections

The main treatment for bacterial infections is with antibiotics . This drug aims to kill bacteria or slow its proliferation.

The type of antibiotic given to the patient will be adjusted to the symptoms, medical history, severity, and results of the patient's examination. Some types of antibiotics that can be given are:

  • Penicillins, such as amoxicillin and ampicillin
  • Cephalosporins , such as cefadroxil and cefotamine
  • Aminoglycosides, such as gentamycin and streptomycin
  • Tetracyclines, such as doxycycline and minocycline
  • Macrolides, such as erythromycin and azithromycin
  • Quinolones, such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin
  • Lincosamides, such as lincomycin and clindamycin

Doctors can prescribe antibiotics without having to wait for the results of investigations, especially if the patient has experienced complications. This action is called empiric antibiotic therapy. The goal is that treatment is not delayed.

Please note, there are conditions when bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. This condition, known as antibiotic resistance, occurs due to the consumption of antibiotic drugs that are not in accordance with a doctor's prescription.

If the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, the doctor will give a stronger type of drug or at a higher dose. However, in some cases, bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics cannot even be treated at all.

Therefore, antibiotics must continue to be used during the treatment period, even though the condition has improved. Besides being able to prevent a recurrence of infection, using antibiotics until they run out can also reduce the risk of developing antibiotic resistance.

Complications of Bacterial Infections

If left untreated, bacterial infections can cause several complications, namely:

  • Bacteremia, which is a condition when bacteria enter the blood due to bacterial infection in an organ of the body, such as the kidneys and lungs
  • Sepsis , which is a bacterial infection that has spread throughout the body causing disruption to organ function
  • Septic shock, which is a fatal condition when blood pressure drops dramatically due to sepsis so that the body's organs do not get enough blood supply
  • Tissue death ( gangrene ), namely the death of body tissue due to untreated bacterial infection of the skin
  • Autoimmune reaction, which is a condition when the body's immune system attacks healthy cells because it cannot distinguish between healthy cells and bacteria that resemble them

Prevention of Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infection is a preventable condition. Some efforts that can be done are:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water, especially before preparing food, before and after eating, and after using the toilet
  • Get vaccinated
  • Maintain personal and environmental hygiene
  • Practice safe sex, for example by using a condom and not changing partners
  • Do not share personal items, such as towels or clothes
  • Do not travel when you are sick
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