FIVE Signs You Might Have Bacterial Infection
THE signs and symptoms of bacterial invasion may vary depending on the part of the body affected. These features may arise due to the excessive multiplication of the bacteria and/or the accumulation of their by-products in tissues. Bacterial invasion may not always cause harm to the host, while some types of infection may cause serious damage (e.g blood poisoning) due to the production of toxins; it is important to be aware of their presence to avoid nasty consequences. The following are typical hallmarks of bacterial infection to be aware of.
- Hyperpigmentation: In response to an infection, dilation of blood capillaries in the dermis may arise and cause a deepening of pigmentation. This can occur alongside tender bruise-like swellings, lesions or rashes. These can be unsightly and may be a sign that infection is becoming evasive and requires treatment.
- Raised body temperature: This may be in the form of a rise in temperature in the site around the infection or commonly an overall rise in body temperature above what is considered normal for that individual. This often presents alongside headache, nausea, shivering, diarrhoea or constipation. A rise in temperature above a certain level (40.5°C) may cause delirium and convulsion. It is important to pay attention to any changes in temperature. While body temperature and inflamed skin may subside on their own, if this does not occur and the increased temperature persists prompt drug therapy may be necessary.
- Swelling: This is one of the typical responses produced by the body during infection. The blood vessels near the site of infection widening and blood flow to that region increases. White blood cells infiltrate the tissue and start to engulf bacteria and other substances. Dead cells are removed and consumed; this may lead to the production of pus. Swellings are commonly treated with the use of antibiotics in conjuction with surgical incision to release pus if necessary.
- Pain: The discomfort associated with an infection may range from mild to severe depending on the degree of infection. The perception of pain may be produced as a result of impulses being produced by damaged nerves in the site of infection which are transmitted to the spinal cord and then to the brain. Depending on the severity of the pain, pain therapy involves the use of cold packs and over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol.
- Purulent discharge: Pus may collect in the site of infection, leading to the formation of an abscess. Boils are common examples of abscesses with discharge. They are often caused by bacterial infection (staphylococcus) that the body has failed to clear. Also the brain and its meninges are susceptible to bacterial infection and can develop abscesses. This is often fatal; requiring suction and drainage to relieve.
It is important to be vigilant for these and other manifestations of bacterial invasion so that infection is caught on time. Health workers in clinics and pharmacies can offer useful advise on techniques (e.g hand washing) to help avoid catching and spreading infection.