Bacterial infections are illnesses that take place when harmful types of bacteria begin to multiply in the body. These infections can range from mild infections to severe, life-threatening infections. Although bacterial infections include deadly diseases, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, many bacterial infections can be easily prevented or cured with the correct medications. Bacterial infections can be spread through sexual contact, by touching infected individuals, through contaminated water, through food, and even through the air. It’s important to know when you should seek medical care for a bacterial infection.
Common Bacterial Infections
Common bacterial infections that require medical treatment include:
- Sexually Transmitted Infections – Some of the most common types of bacterial infections are sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. While they can be cured with antibiotics, they can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
- Upper Respiratory Infections – Not all upper respiratory infections are caused by bacteria. However, when bacteria causes them, they require antibiotic therapy. Tonsillitis and strep throat are both common upper respiratory infections caused by bacteria.
- Gastrointestinal Infections and Food Poisoning – Certain types of bacteria may result in food poisoning, such as certain species of E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and shigella. Some food-borne infections have the potential to cause serious diseases, such as botulism, cholera, and typhoid fever.
- Skin Infections – While harmless bacteria live on the skin, disease-causing bacteria may cause skin infections. Cellulitis, boils, and abscesses are all common examples of skin infections. Necrotizing fasciitis, often referred to as flesh eating bacteria, is the most serious type of bacterial skin infection and is a rapidly spreading infection that can cause death within days.
- Urinary Tract Infections – Bacteria cause most urinary tract infections and they are more common in women. It’s possible for infections to spread from the bladder to the kidneys, causing pyelonephritis.
- Lung Infections – The lungs are very susceptible to bacterial infections, and one common example is pneumococcal pneumonia, although other bacteria may cause pneumonia as well. Other bacterial infections that affect the lungs include whooping cough (pertussis) and Legionnaire’s disease.
- Other Bacterial Infections – Bacterial infections can affect any body tissue. Bacterial meningitis affects the tissues that protect and cover the spinal cord and brain and can cause seizures, permanent disability or death. Septic arthritis is a bacterial infection that affects the joints, and is also life-threatening. Any type of serious bacterial infection has the ability to spread to the blood, a condition called bacteremia that often leads to sepsis, which can be deadly.
Diagnosing and Treating Bacterial Infections
The blood, urine, and sputum may all be tested in order to diagnose a bacterial infection. If pneumonia or other types of lung infections are suspected, chest x-rays may be required. Treatment for bacterial infections generally requires some type of antibiotic therapy. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include cephalosporins, penicillin, amoxicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, and bacitracin.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention
Bacterial infections often cause fever, swollen glands, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Since most bacterial infections require medical treatment, it’s important to get medical care if you think you have a bacterial infection. Get emergency medical care if you have the following symptoms:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Reduced urine production
- Extremely high fever
- Loss of consciousness
- Disorientation (remove, added above)
- Dizziness or Fainting
If you require emergency care, visit Pinnacle ER. We offer state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and services, ensuring you get the treatment you need for your bacterial infection quickly.