Staph infection is caused by a group of bacteria known as the staph bacteria. Infection by this group of bacteria can result in infection of various tissues of the body, and can have varied results, from illnesses that are mild and treatable, to diseases that are serious and could be fatal. There are over 30 different types of Staphylococci bacteria that can cause an infection in human beings.
The most common of these bacteria that cause infections are Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria commonly known as Staph are spherical in shape, reside on the human skin; especially in the nose, mouth, genitals and anal areas, and enter the body through cuts. While their presence in your body may not necessarily lead to a disease, in case there is any damage to the skin or any form of injury, then the body becomes less resilient and prone to infection.
While almost everyone can be prone to infection by Staph, there are some people who are more at risk of contracting an infection. These include women who are nursing, newborns, diabetics, cancer patients, people suffering from vascular or lung diseases, people who have skin disorders, drug users, patients with intravenous catheters, surgical depressions, or those with weak immune systems.
Symptoms of Staphylococcus Infection
The early signs of infection by Staph depend, to a large extent, on the area affected. Given below are list of the most common signs and symptoms that you would observe in patient suffering from staph infection.
- One of the most common symptoms is the formation of an abscess, boil, or furuncle filled with pus.
- It is possible that the affected area may get swollen, appear red, and also cause pain to the patient.
- If this infection has resulted in bacteremia or sepsis, then the patient may experience fever and cold and may also be diagnosed with low blood pressure.
- In case of infected catheters or other implants, there will be tenderness, redness, and occurrence of drainage or pus.
- In some cases, the patient may experience feeling of faintness, headache, body ache, difficulty in breathing, and diarrhea.
These are just some of the most common symptoms of infection by the Staphylococcus bacteria. Depending on the infection and the illness contracted, these symptoms could vary greatly.
Diseases and Conditions Caused by Staphylococcus Infection
Once infected by the Staph bacteria, one of the most common type of disease contracted is skin infection. This can lead to other disorders like impetigo, cellulitis, or even scalded skin syndrome. In women who are nursing, infection by Staph can result in swelling up of the breasts or even abscesses that can cause the bacteria to infect mother's milk. If the bacteria infects the blood stream, then it can cause disorders like bacteremia or sepsis.
A common way in which the infection manifests itself in people with pre-existing lung diseases is staphylococcal pneumonia. If the heart valves are infected, then there are chances of heart failure. A possible result of infection by Staph is osteomyelitis in which the bones swell up. If the bacteria is growing in a condition in which there is little oxygen, then there may be secretion of toxins which may result in a condition known as the Toxic shock syndrome. It is commonly observed in women who are menstruating and using tampons.
Treatment of Staphylococcus Infection
A very commonly asked question regarding Staph infections are, what is the cure for Staphylococcus infection? To a large extent, the treatment for Staph will depend upon the type of infection that the patient suffers from. Antibiotics are commonly used for treatment. Skin infections of the minor kind are treated using ointments which need not necessarily be prescribed. Oral antibiotics are given in some cases. In case, the patient displays the presence of abscesses, then it may be essential that they be drained with the help of a surgical procedure.
Surgery may also be an unavoidable option in case the source of the infection needs to be extracted from the body. Antibiotics may be prescribed intravenously in case of more serious conditions. The type of antibiotic prescribed depends greatly on test results to identify which strain of the Staphylococcus bacteria is causing the infection. There are some strains of Staphylococcus that are resistant to a majority of antibiotics. One such strain is the MRSA strain. In case of infection by MRSA, a combination of antibiotics may be used for treatment.
The prognosis for infection by Staph depends largely on the seriousness of the underlying medical condition, the type of infection, and also how much the infection has spread. In case of infection of Staph, there is always a chance that the infection may return. Infection by Staphylococcus bacteria is extremely contagious and therefore, it is important to minimize chances of transmission. If you are taking care of someone who is suffering from an infection, ensure proper hygiene. In case of an infection like Staph, it is always important that you prevent the spread of the infection as far as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.