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12 Diseases Caused by Bacteria: Symptoms and Treatment

Bacteria are small micro-organisms that are naturally present in the body and in the environment and that may or may not cause disease. Bacteria that cause disease are known as pathogenic bacteria and can enter the body through ingestion of contaminated food or water, unprotected sexual contact, or through the airways, for example.

Diseases caused by bacteria are mainly treated with the use of antibiotics, which should be used as directed by the doctor to avoid the emergence of multi-resistant bacteria, which are responsible for more serious infections and more complicated treatment.

1. Urinary Infection

Urinary tract infections are one of the most common infections caused by bacteria and can happen due to an imbalance of the microbiota in the genital region, or due to holding the pee, not performing proper intimate hygiene, drinking little water during the day or having stones in the kidneys, for example.

There are several bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections, the main ones being Escherichia coliProteus sp., Providencia sp., and Morganella spp.

Main symptoms: The main symptoms related to urinary tract infection are pain and burning when urinating, cloudy urine or with the presence of blood, low and persistent fever, frequent urge to pee and feeling of not being able to empty the bladder.

How to treat: The treatment for urinary tract infection is indicated by the doctor when there are symptoms and the microorganism is identified, being usually indicated the use of antimicrobials, such as Ciprofloxacin, for example. However, when there are no symptoms, the doctor may choose not to use antibiotics to prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria.

How prevention is done: The prevention of urinary infections is done by controlling the causes. Thus, it is important to perform proper intimate hygiene, avoid holding the pee for a long time and drinking at least 2 liters of water a day, for example.

2. Meningitis

Meningitis corresponds to inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord, the meninges, and can be caused by several species of bacteria, the main ones being Streptococcus pneumoniaeMycobacterium tuberculosisHaemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis , which can be acquired through of secretions from people diagnosed with the disease.

Main symptoms : The symptoms of meningitis may appear about 4 days after the involvement of the meninges, there may be fever, headache and movement of the neck, appearance of bruises on the skin, mental confusion, excessive tiredness and muscle stiffness in the neck.

How to treat: The treatment of meningitis is usually done in the hospital, so that the doctor can assess the person's progress and prevent complications. Thus, it is necessary to use antibiotics, according to the bacteria responsible, and the use of Penicillin, Ampicillin, Chloramphenicol or Ceftriaxone, for example, may be indicated, which should be used as directed by the physician.

How prevention is done: The prevention of meningitis should be done mainly through vaccination against meningitis, which should be taken as a child. In addition, it is important that people with meningitis wear a mask and avoid coughing, talking or sneezing around healthy people to avoid contagion. 

3. Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis , which can be transmitted through oral, vaginal or anal intercourse without a condom, and can also be transmitted from woman to child during normal delivery when treatment has not been carried out. correctly.

Main symptoms: Chlamydia symptoms may appear up to 3 weeks after contact with the bacteria, and pain and burning may be noticed when urinating, yellowish white penile or vaginal discharge, similar to pus, pelvic pain or swelling of the testicles, for example. 

How to treat: Treatment for chlamydia should be done under the guidance of a gynecologist or urologist, and the use of antibiotics, such as Azithromycin or Doxycycline, is indicated to promote the elimination of the bacteria and relief of symptoms. 

It is important that the treatment is carried out by the infected person and the partner, even if there are no apparent symptoms, as this way it is possible to prevent the infection.

How prevention is done: To prevent Chlamydia trachomatis infection, it  is important to use a condom with all sexual intercourse and to treat as directed by your doctor, even if there are no apparent signs or symptoms.

4. Gonorreia

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae that is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral intercourse.

Main symptoms: In most cases, gonorrhea is asymptomatic, however some symptoms may appear up to 10 days after contact with the bacteria, which may include pain and burning when urinating, yellowish-white discharge, inflammation of the urethra, urinary incontinence or inflammation in the anus, when the infection happened through anal intercourse.

How to treat: The treatment for gonorrhea should be done according to medical advice, and the use of antibiotics, such as Azithromycin or Ceftriaxone, and sexual abstinence during the treatment period is usually recommended.

It is important that the treatment is carried out until the end, even if there are no apparent signs and symptoms, as this way it is possible to guarantee the elimination of the bacteria and prevent the development of complications, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. 

How prevention is done: To prevent the transmission and spread of gonorrhea, it is important to use a condom in all sexual relations.

5. Syphilis

Like chlamydia and gonorrhea, syphilis is also a sexually transmitted infection, caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum , which can be spread through unprotected sexual intercourse or direct contact with syphilis lesions, as they are rich in bacteria. In addition, syphilis can be transmitted from hand to child during pregnancy or at the time of delivery, when the disease is not correctly identified and/or treated.

Main symptoms: The initial symptoms of syphilis are sores that do not hurt or cause discomfort that may appear on the penis, anus or female genital region and spontaneously disappear. However, the disappearance of these lesions is not an indication that the disease is resolved, but that the bacteria is spreading through the body through the bloodstream, which can give rise to secondary and tertiary syphilis.

How to treat: The treatment of syphilis should be recommended by the urologist or gynecologist according to the stage of the disease in which the person is and the severity of the symptoms. In general, the treatment is done through injections of benzathine penicillin, which is capable of promoting the elimination of the bacteria.

How the prevention is done: The prevention of syphilis is done through the use of condoms in all sexual relations, so it is possible to avoid coming into contact with the lesions. 

In addition, in the case of pregnant women with syphilis, to prevent the baby's infection, it is important that the treatment is carried out according to the doctor's guidance, as this way it is possible to reduce the amount of circulating bacteria and reduce the risk of transmission.

6. Leprosy

Leprosy, also known as leprosy, is a disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and can be transmitted mainly through contact with nasal secretions of people with leprosy.

Main symptoms: This bacterium has a predilection for the nervous system, which can cause muscle paralysis, for example. However, the most characteristic symptoms of leprosy are the lesions formed on the skin, which happen due to the presence of the bacteria in the blood and skin. 

Thus, the most characteristic symptoms of leprosy are dryness of the skin, loss of sensation and the presence of lesions and sores on the feet, nose and eyes, which can result in blindness.

How to treat: The treatment for leprosy should be indicated by the infectologist as soon as the diagnosis is made so that there is a real chance of a cure. 

Thus, the treatment is usually made with several drugs in order to eliminate the bacteria and prevent the disease from progressing and the emergence of complications. The most indicated medications are Dapsone, Rifampicin and Clofazimine, which should be used as directed by the doctor.

In addition, due to the deformities that may arise, it may be necessary to carry out correction procedures and even psychological follow-up, since people with leprosy may suffer discrimination due to their appearance. 

How prevention is done: The most effective form of prevention against leprosy is detection of the disease at an early stage and initiation of therapy as soon as the diagnosis is established. In this way, it is possible to prevent the occurrence of symptoms and complications and contagion to other people.

7. Whooping cough

Pertussis is a respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis , which enters the body through the airways, lodges in the lungs and leads to the development of respiratory symptoms, being more common in children and easily prevented by vaccination.

Main symptoms: The initial symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a flu, with low-grade fever, runny nose and dry cough, for example, being observed. However, as the infection progresses, it is possible to have sudden coughing spells in which the person finds it difficult to breathe and which end in a deep breath, as if it were a flu.

How to treat: Treatment for pertussis involves the use of antibiotics, such as Azithromycin, Clarithromycin or Erythromycin, for example, which should be used as directed by the doctor.

How the prevention is done: To prevent whooping cough it is recommended to avoid staying indoors for a long time and wash your hands with soap and water frequently, in addition to taking the DTPA vaccine, which is provided for in the child's vaccination plan and that it guarantees protection against whooping cough, diphtheria, tuberculosis and tetanus. 

8. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, popularly known as Koch's bacillus, which enters the body through the upper airways and lodges in the lungs leading to the development of respiratory signs and symptoms, in addition to being able to spread. in the body and result in the development of extrapulmonary tuberculosis. 

Main symptoms: The main symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis are coughing for more than three weeks, which may be accompanied by blood, pain when breathing or coughing, night sweats and a low and constant fever.

How to treat:  The treatment for tuberculosis is carried out continuously, that is, the pulmonologist or infectologist indicates the combination of Rifampicin, Isoniazid, Pyrazinamide and Ethambutol for about 6 months or until the disease is cured. In addition, it is recommended that the person being treated for tuberculosis remain isolated for the first 15 days of treatment, as they are still capable of transmitting the bacteria to other people.

How the prevention is done:  Tuberculosis prevention is done through simple measures, such as avoiding being in public and closed places, covering your mouth when coughing and washing your hands regularly. In addition, prevention can also be done through the BCG vaccine, which must be done soon after birth.

9. Pneumonia

Bacterial pneumonia is usually caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae , which can cause illness mainly in children and the elderly, and infection usually occurs through accidental entry of the bacteria into the lungs from the mouth or as a consequence of an infection in another part of the body.

Main symptoms: The main symptoms of bacterial pneumonia caused by S. pneumoniae are cough with phlegm, high fever, difficulty breathing and chest pain, it is important to consult a pulmonologist or general practitioner so that the symptoms can be evaluated and treatment can be started. most appropriate. 

How to treat: Treatment for Streptococcus pneumoniae pneumonia is usually done with rest and antibiotics, such as Amoxicillin or Azithromycin, for up to 14 days, according to the medication indicated. In addition, in some cases, the doctor may indicate respiratory physiotherapy so that the breathing process can be easier.

How prevention happens: To prevent bacterial pneumonia, it is recommended to avoid staying for a long time in closed places with little air ventilation and to wash your hands well.

10. Salmonelose

Salmonellosis, or food poisoning, is a disease caused by Salmonella sp ., which can be acquired through the consumption of food and water, in addition to contact with animals contaminated by the bacteria. The main source of Salmonella sp . they are animals raised on farms, like cows, pigs and chickens, mainly. Thus, the foods that can be obtained from these animals, such as meat, eggs and milk, correspond to the main source of salmonellosis infection.

Main symptoms: Symptoms of infection by Salmonella sp . appear 8 to 48 hours after contact with the bacteria, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, malaise and chills can be observed. In some cases, diarrhea and blood in the stool may also be noticed.

How to treat: The treatment of salmonellosis is usually not done with the use of antibiotics, and fluid replacement is generally indicated by the physician to prevent dehydration, which is very common in older people and children, and control of nausea, vomiting and pain.

In more severe cases, when symptoms persist and bloodstream infection by this bacteria is suspected, the infectologist may recommend the use of antibiotics, such as Fluoroquinolones or Azithromycin, for example.

How prevention is done:  The prevention of contagion by Salmonella sp. , is done mainly through personal and food hygiene measures. In other words, it is important to wash your hands well after contact with animals and before and after food preparation, especially when they are raw.

11. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the Leptospira genus, whose infection occurs through direct or indirect contact with urine, feces or secretions infected by the bacteria. This disease is more common to happen in periods of rain, since urine and excrement from rats, dogs or cats are spread throughout the area, facilitating the infection by the bacteria.

Main symptoms: The symptoms of leptospirosis usually appear after about 5 to 14 days after the bacteria enter the body through mucous membranes or skin wounds, and can cause symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, high fever, chills, reddened eyes and nausea In some cases, the bacteria can reach the bloodstream and spread to other tissues, including the brain, causing more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing and coughing up blood.

Furthermore, due to the persistence of the organism's bacteria, there may be failure and, consequently, kidney failure, which can put the person's life at risk.

How to treat: The main form of treatment is through antibiotics, which should be indicated as soon as symptoms appear. Usually, the infectologist recommends the use of Amoxicillin for 7 to 10 days and, in the case of patients who are allergic to this antibiotic, Erythromycin is recommended. In addition, depending on the severity of the symptoms, monitoring of kidney function is necessary, and dialysis may be necessary.

Although it is not a disease that can be transmitted from person to person, it is recommended that the person diagnosed with Leptospirosis rest and drink plenty of water so that recovery is quicker.

How prevention is done: To avoid leptospirosis, it is recommended to avoid potentially contaminated places, such as mud, rivers, stagnant water and flooded places, for example. In addition, in case of flooding of the house, for example, it is recommended to wash all the furniture and floors with bleach or chlorine.

It is also important to avoid accumulating garbage at home and avoid accumulating water, as this way, in addition to preventing leptospirosis, other diseases such as dengue and malaria are avoided. 

12. Cholera

Cholera is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae that produces toxins that cause inflammation of the intestinal cells, resulting in the typical symptoms of the disease. This type of disease is more common in places that do not have running water, basic sanitation or garbage collection, which favors the proliferation of infectious agents. 

Main symptoms: The symptoms of cholera can last up to 5 days after contact or consumption of contaminated water or food, especially with intense diarrhea, watery and white stools, constant nausea, dehydration, excessive tiredness, weakness and changes in heart rate.

How to treat: There is usually no need for specific treatment for cholera, it is only recommended that the person drink plenty of fluids or homemade serum to prevent severe dehydration, and it is also recommended to have a light and easily digestible diet.

In more serious cases, especially when the presence of blood in the feces or urine is verified, the doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics to fight the bacteria and toxins.

How prevention is done: To prevent cholera, it is important to cook food thoroughly, drink filtered water, and wash hands before handling food and after going to the bathroom. In addition, there is also a cholera vaccine, which is recommended for people who live or will travel to places with a high risk of infection by the bacteria responsible for the disease.

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Urinary Infection


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