What causes bacterial diseases?
Bacterial diseases are caused by harmful bacteria (pathogenic bacteria). The vast majority of bacteria do not cause disease, and many bacteria are actually helpful and even necessary for good health. Bacterial diseases occur when pathogenic 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, vagina or mouth. Less common, bacterial infections can occur when healthy bacteria multiply uncontrollably.
Various ways pathogenic bacteria can enter the body
Pathogenic bacteria can enter the body through a variety of means including:
Contamination of bites, cuts, rashes, abrasions and other breaks in the skin, gums and tissues
Eating contaminated food
Getting bitten by an infected insect
Having sexual contact with an infected person
Inhaling contaminated air-borne droplets into the nose and lungs
Kissing an infected person
Sharing needles for tattooing or drug use
Through the eyes, ears or urethra
Touching infected feces or body fluids, and not washing your hands before eating or touching your mouth, eyes or nose
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, the body is not always able to stop the bacteria from multiplying and spreading. As the harmful bacteria reproduce, they can crowd out healthy bacteria and microorganisms and emit toxins that damage the cells of the body.
What are the risk factors for bacterial diseases?
Bacterial diseases can occur in any age group or population, but a number of factors increase the risk of developing bacterial diseases. Not all people with risk factors will get bacterial diseases. Risk factors for bacterial diseases include:
Being an infant, child or older adult
Eating eggs or meats that are raw or undercooked
Eating expired foods, or eating leftovers that have been stored for more than two to three days
Having a genetic predisposition to bacterial infection
Having a chronic disease
Not washing your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, touching pet feces, handling reptiles, or touching raw foods or foods contaminated with bacteria
Significant exposure to a person with a bacterial disease
Reducing your risk of bacterial diseases
You can lower your risk of developing or transmitting bacterial diseases by:
Avoiding contact with a person who has a bacterial disease or its symptoms, such as fever, vomiting or diarrhea
Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, then washing your hands
Defrosting foods in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the counter
Refrigerating leftovers right away and eating them within two to three days unless they have been frozen
Eating a healthy diet that is high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and contains adequate low-fat protein and low-fat dairy products or other calcium sources
Getting enough rest and minimizing stress
Getting recommended vaccines for bacterial diseases, such as meningitis, pneumonia, tetanus and rabies
Seeking regular medical care and following your treatment plan for a chronic disease
Throwing out expired food or perishable food that has been sitting at room temperature for two hours or longer
Using antibacterial products to clean surfaces, such as computer keyboards, telephones and sinks
Washing your hands after using the bathroom and after contact with pet feces, reptiles, dirty diapers, raw foods, and people who are ill
Washing plates, utensils, and cutting boards that have been exposed to raw meats or poultry in hot soapy water
Wearing long pants and sleeves, and using insect repellant when in tall grass or wooded areas
What are bacterial diseases?
Bacterial diseases include any type of illness caused by bacteria. Bacteria are a type of microorganism, which are tiny forms of life that can only be seen with a microscope. Other types of microorganisms include viruses, some fungi, and some parasites.
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What are the symptoms of bacterial diseases?
Symptoms of bacterial diseases vary depending on the type of bacterial infection, the area of the body that is infected, and other factors, such as the patient’s age and health history. The symptoms of bacterial diseases can also resemble symptoms of other diseases, such as colitis, influenza, and viral infections. The classic symptom of a bacterial infection is a fever, although not all people... Read more about bacterial diseasessymptoms
How are bacterial diseases treated?
Bacterial diseases are treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics work by killing the harmful bacteria or by stopping them from reproducing and spreading. Different types of antibiotics are effective for treating specific types of bacteria. Antibiotics may be given orally, intravenously, or by intramuscular injection, depending on the type a... Read more about bacterial diseasestreatments