Bacterial diseases: Introduction
Bacterial diseases include any type of illness or disease caused by bacteria, a type of microbe. Microbes are tiny organisms that cannot be seen without a microscope and include viruses, fungi, and some parasites as well as bacteria. The vast majority of bacteria do not cause disease, and many bacteria are actually helpful and even necessary to good health. Millions of bacteria normally live on the skin and in the intestines and can also be found on the genitalia. Bacterial diseases result when the harmful bacteria get into an area of the body that is normally sterile, such as the bladder, or when they crowd out the helpful bacteria in places such as the intestines.
Harmful bacteria are called pathogenic and include Neisseria meningitidis, which can cause meningitis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, which can cause pneumonia, and Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause a variety of infections. Other common pathogenic bacteria include Helicobacter pylori, which can cause gastric ulcers, and Escherichia coli and Salmonella, which can both cause food poisoning.
Pathogenic bacteria can enter the body through a variety of means, including inhalation into the nose and lungs, ingestion in food or through sexual contact. Once bacteria enter the body, a healthy immune system will recognize the bacteria as foreign invaders and try to kill or stop the bacteria from reproducing. However, even in a healthy person with a healthy immune system, the body is not always able to stop the bacteria from multiplying and spreading. As the harmful bacteria reproduce, many emit toxins which damage the cells of the body, resulting in symptoms of a bacterial disease.
Symptoms of bacterial diseases often include fever and chills. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of bacterial diseases.
Bacterial infections can lead to serious, even life-threatening complications, such as sepsis, kidney failure, toxic shock syndrome, and death. People at risk for bacterial diseases and its complications include those who have had a significant exposure to a pathogenic bacteria, such as Neisseria meningitidis, or Streptococcus pneumoniae. Other risk factors include having a compromised immune system due to such diseases as HIV/AIDS or combined immunodeficiencies. People who take certain medications, such as corticosteroids, which suppress the body's natural immune response, are also at risk for contracting bacterial diseases. Other risk factors include malnutrition, high stress levels, having a genetic predisposition to bacterial infection, and being very young or very old.
Making a diagnosis of bacterial diseases begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. The types of diagnostic testing performed for a suspected bacterial disease varies depending on the symptoms. A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test is generally done on anyone who might have a bacterial disease. A complete blood count measures the numbers of different types of blood cells, including white blood cells (WBCs). Different types of WBCs increase in number in characteristic ways during an infectious process, such as bacterial diseases.
A culture and sensitivity test (C and S) may be performed. This test requires taking a small sample from the body area that is suspected to be infected with bacteria and grows the sample in a lab. This test determines the type of bacteria causing a bacterial disease as well as which antibiotics would be most effective in treating that specific bacteria. Common samples tested with a culture and sensitivity include those from the throat, blood, and sputum from the lungs. Samples from lesions and abscesses are also tested with a culture and sensitivity.
Diagnostic tests may also include a lumbar puncture, also called a spinal tap, which involves withdrawing a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the spine with a needle. The sample of CSF is tested for white blood cells and other indications of bacterial diseases that may be in the spine or brain.
X-rays may be performed to assist in the diagnosis of some bacterial diseases. This may include taking a chest X-ray for suspected cases of pneumonia. Other imaging tests may include CT scan. Additional tests may be performed in order to rule out or confirm other diseases that may accompany bacterial diseases or cause similar symptoms, such as diarrhea or neck stiffness.
It is possible that a diagnosis of bacterial diseases can be missed or delayed because some symptoms, such as fever, headache, and nausea and vomiting, are similar to symptoms of other diseases. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of bacterial diseases.
Bacterial diseases are treated with antibiotics. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of bacterial diseases. ...more »
Bacteria are single-celled creatures with tiny flagella.
Bacteria are alive.
They are very small organisms, often only a single cell.
Bacteria need to get energy,
and may emit toxins or waste products.
By comparison, viruses are much smaller, and are not exactly "alive" in the normal sense. ...more »
Bacterial diseases: Symptoms
Symptoms of bacterial diseases vary depending on the type of bacterial infection and the area of the body that is infected. The symptoms of bacterial diseases can also resemble symptoms of other diseases, such as colitis, influenza and other viral infections. The classic symptom of a bacterial infection is fever, although not all people with a bacterial infection ...more symptoms »
Bacterial diseases: Treatments
The first step in treating bacterial diseases is preventing its occurrence and spread. Vaccines are available to prevent some bacterial diseases, such as meningitis, pneumonia, tetanus, and rabies.
Prevention of the spread of harmful bacteria that cause bacterial diseases also includes frequent hand washing and covering the mouth and nose with a ...more treatments »
Bacterial diseases: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of bacterial diseases may be delayed because some symptoms are vague, nonspecific, or may initially be mild. These include body aches, weight loss, fatigue, or irritability. Other symptoms, such as chest pain, headache, cough, or diarrhea, may initially be assumed to be related to another condition, such as influenza, "stomach ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Bacterial diseases
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symptoms of Bacterial diseases
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Bacterial diseases: Deaths
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Alternative Treatments for Bacterial diseases
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Types of Bacterial diseases
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Types of Bacterial diseases
Causes of Bacterial diseases
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Misdiagnosis and Bacterial diseases
Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely
to cause some level of diarrhea in patients.
The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria,...read more »
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Clinical Trials for Bacterial diseases
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and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
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Clinical Trials for Bacterial diseases
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Types of Bacterial diseases
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Article Excerpts about Bacterial diseases
Microbes belonging to the bacteria group
are made up of only one cell. Under a microscope,
bacteria look like balls, rods, or spirals. Bacteria are so small that a
line of 1,000 could fit across the eraser of a pencil. Life in any form on
Earth could not exist without these tiny cells.
(Source: excerpt from Microbes in Sickness and in Health -- Publications, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: NIAID)
Definitions of Bacterial diseases:
Infections and associated diseases by bacteria, general or unspecified.
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