What is bacteria infection? Before we answer this question, let’s discuss what bacteria are. Bacteria are microscopic organisms that consist of just one cell, and are so small that a line of 1,000 fits across a pencil eraser. They are only visible under a microscope, and have three basic shapes – balls, rods or spirals.
The human body is host to millions of bacteria. Most bacteria occurring naturally in or on our body is completely harmless, and some is even helpful. Some bacteria help us digest food, others destroy disease-causing cells and still others help with vitamins.
But some bacteria can cause infection or disease. These are called ‘pathogenic bacteria’. In order to cause infection they must enter the body. This happens through cuts, contaminated food or water, contact with feces or exhaled droplets from a cough or sneeze or by touching contaminated surfaces.
Once they enter your body they reproduce very quickly by dividing into two. Each daughter cell then divides into two and so on so that a single bacterium can divide into about 500,000 in just 8 hours.
Many give off toxins, which can damage tissue and make you ill. Just how ill you will get depends on the type of bacteria infection you have contracted. Some will make you feel no more ill than if you have a common cold, while others can cause much more serious, even deadly infections.
Some of the most common types of bacteria infections include staphylococci, streptococci, haemophilus influenzae, E. coli, H. pylori and Salmonella.
Although we are all exposed to multiple bacteria every day, there are several risk factors that increase the possibility of getting sick from exposure. These include poor immune response for any reason, the old or very young, nutritional status and genetic factors.
If you do get one, a bacterial infection often makes you noticeably sick. The body reacts by increasing blood flow causing inflammation, and sending immune system cells to attack and destroy the bacteria. Antibodies produced by the immune system attach themselves to the bacteria in an effort to destroy it.
This often makes you have a fever, swelling, discharge and pain. Sometimes a bacteria infection will make you vomit or give you diarrhea, but these symptoms can all be due to an illness that is not bacterial.
Usually, mild bacteria infection will go away on its own, but sometimes you will need an antibiotic in order to get rid of it. Antibiotics work by killing bacteria or limiting their ability to reproduce.
The development of antibiotics in the 1940s has saved the lives of millions of people who would have died from bacteria infections. Unfortunately overuse of antibiotics due to patient insistence and doctor over-prescribing has helped to create strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These new, stronger bacteria pose a genuine threat to our health.
Besides an increase in antibiotic-resistance, overuse of antibiotics upsets the normal balance of bacterial flora in our digestive system. A common side effect of antibiotics is diarrhea, which can lead to the loss of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K, magnesium and zinc
Medline Plus: Bacterial Infections
Better Health Channel: Infections – Bacterial and Viral
How Stuff Works: How your Immune System Works
Life Extension : Bacterial Infections Protecting Yourself From Common Pathogens
My Optimum Health: What Causes a Bacterial Infection