What Is a Bacterial Infection?

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Bacteria are living, single-cell organisms. They can survive in human bodies as well as on inanimate objects such as door knobs and computer keyboards. There are both good and bad bacteria. Most bacteria are helpful to our bodies and can even fight off the bad ones. According to Medline Plus, less than 1 percent of bacteria are harmful. A bacterial infection occurs when those harmful bacteria enter our system.

How Bacteria Get In

Harmful bacteria can enter our system in several ways. One way is through contaminated, nonpasteurized or expired foods as is the case in E. coli and salmonella. Another way is through open cuts and sores on the skin. Harmful bacteria can also enter through any open passages such as eyes, ears, teeth and genitals.

Types of Bad Bacteria

There are several strands of bad bacteria--entirely too many to list. Some common illnesses resulting from a bacterial infection include strep throat, yeast infections, acne, meningitis, Lyme disease, gonorrhea, syphilis, diphtheria and tuberculosis. Some types of bacterial infections are contagious while others are not. If you have a specific condition, check with your doctor to find out if you’re contagious.

Symptoms

The symptoms differ greatly depending on the type of bacterial infection you have. However, in most cases it’s very apparent you have a problem. Some symptoms of bacterial infections include fever, discharge, odors and an inflammation of the affected area.

Medication

Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections. If you believe you are suffering from a bacterial infection, talk to your doctor. The one caveat with antibiotics is that our body builds immunity toward them. If they are taken regularly, they become less effective.

Preventive Measures

One of the best ways to counteract bad bacteria is to ensure you have enough good bacteria in your system. Yogurt is an excellent source of good bacteria. If you’re prone to bacterial infections, you might want to start consuming one serving of yogurt per day. Another way to reduce the risk of bacterial infections is to wash your hands with antibacterial soap regularly. Finally, in order to reduce bacterial infections through the mouth and teeth, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash such as Listerine.

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