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What is a Bacterial Infection?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Bacteria are very small, one-celled organisms, most of which are not harmful to the human body. Infectious types of bacteria can sometimes invade the body and cause a variety of medical conditions, which may need to be treated with prescription medications such as antibiotics. Some of the more common conditions caused by a bacterial infection include bacterial vaginosis, kidney infections, and gastroenteritis.

Bacterial vaginosis is a common type of bacterial infection affecting women. Various types of bacteria live naturally in the vaginal area and normally do not cause problems. If any of these varieties of bacteria begin to grow excessively, an infection may occur. Women who experience symptoms of this condition may notice a foul-smelling vaginal discharge, although it is common for a woman to experience no symptoms at all.

Pyelonephritis is a type of bacterial infection that involves the kidneys. Symptoms of this type of infection often include pain, fever, or blood in the urine. This condition should be treated right away, as untreated kidney infections can lead to permanent kidney damage. If the kidneys become too damaged to function properly, dialysis or transplant may become the only viable options to keep the patient alive.

Sinusitis is a type of bacterial infection that involves inflammation and irritation of the delicate tissues of the sinus cavity. Sinusitis symptoms may include fever, cough, and headache. As is the case with most bacterial infections, antibiotics are typically needed to effectively treat sinusitis. Warm, moist compresses may be placed across the sinus area of the face to help ease painful symptoms while the body heals from the infection.

Gastroenteritis is a medical condition that is sometimes caused by a bacterial infection and is characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract, including the stomach and intestines. Symptoms of gastroenteritis may include abdominal pain or cramping, fever, or diarrhea.

Chlamydia is a type of sexually transmitted disease that is commonly caused by a bacterial infection. Many people who have this type of infection never experience any symptoms, which means the disease can be easily spread to other people unintentionally. Those who do experience symptoms of this condition may notice abdominal pain, nausea, or fever. Women with chlamydia may also begin to bleed or spot between periods. Patients who are diagnosed with this condition should notify all sex partners so that everyone who may have been exposed can receive the proper testing.

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Discussion Comments

By Drentel — On Jan 09, 2014

Talentryto - You are correct about seeking medical help. Even if the bacterial infection itself is not dangerous, it makes you more vulnerable to other illnesses and infections, which could be serious.

However, sometimes bacterial infection symptoms can be mistaken for something less serious, and as the article said, some people have no symptoms even when they have an infection.

By Animandel — On Jan 08, 2014

I find the section of the article about the vaginal bacterial infection particularly interesting. It's amazing that bacteria can live peacefully in our bodies without causing harm and then for some unknown reason begin to grow and cause infections.

Sometimes it seems like something out of a science fiction movie. The human body is so complex and mysterious.

By Talentryto — On Jan 08, 2014

Any type of bacterial infection not only has the potential to make you feel miserable, but can also be dangerous if not treated. Regardless of the type of infection you think that you may have, it is important to see your doctor to get proper treatment.

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