A chronic infection refers to a case that does not respond to treatment, that lasts for weeks, or that keeps returning despite treatment. In addition, a chronic infection can afflict virtually any system in the human body such as the urinary, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and circulatory system. Examples of chronic infections include chronic ear infections, chronic urinary tract infections, and chronic skin infections.
Treatment for a chronic infection may include antibiotics. If an infection is determined to be related to a bacterial organism, the treatment of choice may be antibiotics. If, however, the infection is related to a viral organism, antibiotics will not eliminate the infection. The physician needs to evaluate the infection and its source before prescribing antibiotics to avoid the occurrence of a resistant infection in the future.
A continuing infection can be the result of a depressed immune system, stress, or a highly virulent strain of bacteria. In addition, a chronic infection can occur when the prescribed antibiotics are not strong enough or when the patient fails to complete his entire prescription. To determine which antibiotics are appropriate for certain infections, the physician might sometimes order a medical test called a culture and sensitivity test to determine if a particular organism will be sensitive to a specific antibiotic.
Certain medications can also contribute to a long-running infection. For example, a chronic urinary tract infection may be caused by urinary retention. When urine is forced to stay in the bladder for prolonged periods of time, bacteria can grow and cause an infection. Medications that can contribute to urinary retention include antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, and prescription pain relievers.
When a physician tries to determine if the patient has an acute infection or a chronic infection, he will take a few factors into consideration. One of these factors is the time line of the infection. If the infection lasts for more than a few weeks, chances are that it is chronic. In addition, if the infection is especially resistant to antibiotics or other treatments, it may be determined to be chronic.
Generally, treatment for chronic and acute infections are similar. One of the differences, however, may be the length of time that the patient receives treatment. For acute infections, antibiotics are generally prescribed for 10 days. For chronic infections, a double course of antibiotics may be recommended, or different types of antibiotics may be given back to back. Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, however, the physician can recommend remedies to reduce the risk of side effects.