Bacteria are microscopic living things that have only one cell. There are both helpful and harmful bacteria. Some bacteria destroy cells causing infections and diseases, while others help with digestion and provide the vitamins necessary for the body. Cheese and yogurt are made with the active participation of ‘good bacteria’. On the other hand, ‘bad bacteria’ can cause infections which can then lead to various bacterial diseases. ‘Harmful bacteria’ reproduce quickly in your body and some of them give off chemicals called toxins, damaging your tissue and causing you to fall ill. Examples of such bacteria are E. coli, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Infection caused by the spread of a harmful strain of bacteria inside or on the body is technically referred to as a bacterial infection or bacterial disease. Bacteria are notoriously adaptive – any kind of environment – from extreme cold to extreme heat and even radioactive ones – can be home to bacteria.
Depending on the type of bacteria that is causing the infection and the location of it, the signs and symptoms of a bacterial infection may differ. Here are some general symptoms to look out for when it comes to bacterial infections or bacterial diseases.
Bacterial infections can be highly infectious, which means that you must take extra care to avoid spreading bacterial infections if you are suffering from one. Some responsible gestures that can help prevent the spread of an infectious bacterial condition are covering of the mouth when sneezing and coughing, washing one’s hands, and not sharing cups and drink bottles.
We can classify the various kinds of bacterial infections on the basis of the part of the body that is affected by it, such as:
Although there are good bacteria aiding our nutrition (by helping us digest food) and providing vitamins for the body, there are some deadly bacterial diseases as well. Some of them are:
Diphtheria – This bacterial disease affects the mucous membranes of your nose and throat, typically causing fever, sore throat, swollen glands and weakness.
Cholera – This bacterial disease causes severe watery diarrhea, resulting in dehydration and even death if left untreated. Cholera is caused by consuming contaminated food or water.
Bubonic Plague – In this case, within a week of exposure to bacteria, flu-like symptoms develop including headaches, fever and vomiting. Swollen and painful nodes develop closest to the area where the bacteria entered the skin.
Dysentery – This is an inflammatory disease of the intestine (especially of the colon) that is caused by bacteria – resulting in severe abdominal pains and diarrhea with blood mixed stools. Symptoms of Dysentery can include a feeling of incomplete defecation and fever.
Gastric Ulcer – They are open sores which develop on the lining inside your stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine (peptic ulcer). Most common symptom is stomach pain.
Leprosy – This is a contagious disease caused by bacteria that affects the mucous membranes, skin and nerves, resulting in discoloration and lumps on the skin, and can even lead to deformities and disfigurement.
Tuberculosis – This bacterial disease mainly affects your lungs and can potentially be serious. It is a highly contagious disease, in which the TB bacteria is spread through coughs and sneezes.
Pneumonia – This bacterial disease aggravates the lung air sacs. The air sacs may be filled with pus or fluid, causing symptoms like cough with pus or phlegm, difficulty in breathing, fever and chills.
Typhus – This is also known as typhus fever and is actually a bunch of infectious bacterial diseases. Headache, fever and a rash are the common symptoms, which typically begin a couple of weeks after exposure.
Typhoid – This bacterial disease can lead to diarrhea, vomiting and high fever, and can even get fatal. Contaminated food and drinks are the most common carriers. Typhoid is most widespread in areas where handwashing is less frequent.
Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) – This bacterial disease is one where after entering your body, the bacteria start inhabiting and living in your digestive tract. The bacteria can cause ulcers in the lining of your stomach or upper part of your small intestine. This is a kind of bacterial disease that can potentially result in stomach cancer.
Escherichia Coli (E. coli) – This is a kind of bacteria that usually lives in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Most types of E. coli are harmless, causing diarrhea at the most, but the more harmful varieties can cause bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal cramps and vomiting.
Staphylococcal Diseases – This kind of bacteria usually occupy the skin and nose where they are harmless, but they might enter the body through nearly invisible abrasions or cuts, causing boils.
Streptococcal Diseases – Symptoms in such case may range from simple throat infections to pneumonia. Streptococcal diseases are treated with antibiotics.
Salmonella – This common bacterial disease affects the intestinal tract and is usually caused by contaminated food or water. Some may develop fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps while others may develop no symptoms at all.
Syphilis – This is a sexually transmitted bacterial disease. The first sign is a small painless sore. It may appear on the inside of your mouth, rectum or sexual organs.
Gonorrhea – This bacterial disease affects the reproductive tract, and can also affect the mucous membranes of throat, mouth, eyes and rectum. It is transmitted by sexual contact with an infected person.
Note: Some of these diseases and symptoms may be caused by both bacteria and virus.
Most bacterial infections and bacterial diseases can be treated with antibiotics. However, antibiotic-resistant strains of Bacteria are starting to develop, which means a type of bacteria which are resistant to the antibiotics. Some examples of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and penicillin-resistant Enterococcus.
Some ways one can keep viral infections and bacterial diseases (and bacterial infections) at bay are:
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Tests for Bacterial infections Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).
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