What Is A Staph Infection?

What Is A Staph Infection?

Staphylococcus bacteria is a type of bacteria that is commonly found on someone’s skin or in their nose.  You can have this bacteria without ever showing signs or symptoms of being sick.  When it becomes an issue is if the bacteria finds its way into the body deeper than the skin layer.  This can happen if you have a cut, or scrape and the bacteria can then move into the bloodstream.  This results in you having a staph infection. 

Staph infections are very common, having more than three million cases per year.  Most staph infections aren’t dangerous but some can become life threatening if they make their way to internal organs.  Since the staphylococcus bacteria lives on the skin it is easily transferable.  You can pass the bacteria just by shaking hands, or using the same towel or not washing your sheets regularly.  The bacteria is very hearty, meaning it can withstand lots of normal ways that kill bacteria. 

 

Who Has Increased Risk?

 

Anyone can develop a staph infection.  There are some groups that are more at risk though.  Newborn infants, and breastfeeding mothers are more at risk of developing a staph infection.  People with other medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, vascular disease, lung disease, or a respiratory illness are also more at risk.  If you have an already weakened immune system the chances are also higher of you developing an infection.  Other risks can be having an IV catheter, or a recent surgical incision. 

 

How Staph Infections Spread

 

If you end up with a staph infection you are contagious for as long as the infection is in your body.  It is easily passed from person to person.  Since there are so many different types of staph infections the symptoms have a wide range.  The bacteria can infect skin, joints, bones, lungs, and even your heart.  

 

Different Types Of Staph Infections

 

The easiest form of a staph infection you can get is on your skin.  This can occur if you get a cut or scrape and the staphylococcus bacteria finds its way into the cut.  Types of skin staph infections can include boils, impetigo, and cellulitis.  You will want to look at your skin and if it appears red, swollen, tender, or painful you will want to see your doctor.  

Food poisoning from the staphylococcus bacteria is also possible.  You will usually develop symptoms from this within a few hours after eating the food.  Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and low blood pressure.  You will not develop a fever with this type of staph infection.  The symptoms will usually go away after a day or two on their own. 

There are also bloodstream staph infections.  This is when your bones, muscles, and internal organs can be targeted.  A high fever will present itself as well as low blood pressure.  Depending on what part of the body has the infection will depend on what other symptoms you may experience.  Artificial joints, and eternal devices such as pacemakers are also at risk for developing staph infections. 

Toxic shock syndrome is another type of staph infection.  This is usually in relation to women using tampons.  You can get toxic shock syndrome when not changing tampons regularly.  Symptoms of this can include high fever, nausea, vomiting, a rash, confusion, muscle aches, diarrhea, and stomach pain. 

 

Diagnosing A Staph Infection

 

Regardless of the type of staph infection diagnosing is pretty easy.  With a skin staph infection a physical exam is usually enough to diagnose.  If you have an internal staph infection usually a simple blood test can reveal the infection.  There is no actual prevention of getting a staph infection.  There is no vaccine that will make you immune to them, and even if you have one once, you could get one again.  There are some environmental things you can do though to help you not be at such a high risk of getting a staph infection.  Make sure you wash your hands, keep wounds covered, change tampons regularly, wash bedding regularly, and make sure to take food safety precautions. 

 

Treatment Of A Staph Infection

 

Treatment of a staph infection again depends on what type you have.  The most common is antibiotics.  Whether they are IV antibiotics, oral antibiotics, or an antibiotic ointment depends on how severe the infection is and where the infection is in your body.  Sometimes wound drainage may be necessary if there is a build up of fluid or pus.  Also if an internal device becomes infected the best option may be to remove it and have it replaced with a new one. 

MRSA is a type of staph infection and it is antibiotic resistant.  Other strains of staph infections become antibiotic resistant as well.  In these cases your doctor will try other means to get rid of the infection using other antibiotics other than the normal ones such as penicillin.  

 

Though staph infections can be life threatening the majority of them are not.  They are easily treated once diagnosed.  Making sure to wash your hands, and keep your wounds covered if you develop a staph infection can help reduce the chance of it spreading to other people.  You can have the staphylococcal bacteria on your skin, nose or genitals and not ever have an infection.  A primary care physician can take care of your staph infection if you end up developing one.  

 




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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators.

The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles.

Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.

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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years. Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles. Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.

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