Bacterial Infections

The majority of bacteria are harmless; indeed they are even considered to be good for us. A small minority however are bad bacteria; bacteria that will make you ill, and in certain instances can even kill you. If you live and/or work in London, you feel under the weather and you cannot wait for an appointment with your GP, or your work pattern makes it difficult to organise, why not take advantage of the convenient walk-in clinic London based Broadgate GP operate at London Wall?

Good bacteria and bad bacteria

Over 99% of the bacteria in your body system are harmless and helpful. These good bacteria help us to digest our food, provide our bodies with certain vitamins, and help us by fighting and destroying cells that cause illness. We are even encouraged to eat good bacteria. It is added or cultured in certain foods such as probiotic yoghurts and some cheeses, particularly unpasteurised cheeses.

But infectious bacteria make us ill. Once they establish themselves in our body systems they multiply extremely quickly, producing toxins that damage body tissue, causing illness. Common everyday examples of harmful bacteria include E.coli, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus.

The differences between bacteria and viruses

Many people are confused over the differences between bacteria and viruses. To begin with, viruses are much smaller than bacteria. Even the largest virus is still substantially smaller than the smallest bacteria. Bacteria can survive and multiply outside the human body whereas viruses have to have a host body.

Whereas most bacteria are benevolent, the majority of viruses are malevolent. They attack body cells. The only way that viruses can reproduce is to attach themselves to body cells. In the majority of instances, once attached to a cell, viruses reprogram that cell to produce new viruses, eventually causing the cells to explode and expire. In other instances, they can transform normal, healthy cells into malignant or cancerous cells.

Categories of bacterial infection caused by pathogenic bacteria

Bacterial infections are caused by pathogenic bacteria. Pathogens are any biological agents that bring about an illness. As well as harmful (pathogenic) bacteria, pathogens also include viruses and parasites. Bacterial infections are almost too numerous to mention; however, in terms of the types of diseases and illnesses they bring about, the main categories of bacterial infections include:

  • Gastrointestinal infections (including food poisoning)
  • Skin infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • STIs (Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Syphilis)

In terms of commonality, Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are the most prevalent bacterial infection here in the UK. This is then followed by Respiratory Infections, (including types of pneumonia, such as legionnaire’s disease), infections of the dermis (skin) and other soft tissues, blood stream infections, and infections from invasive surgical procedures.

The most common types of pathogenic bacteria

The main groups of pathogenic bacteria include:

  • Escherichia coli (causes food poisoning)
  • Salmonella (causes food poisoning)
  • Helicobacter pylori (causes gastritis and ulcers)
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae (causes gonorrhoea)  
  • Neisseria meningitis (causes meningitis)
  • Staphylococcus Aureus (causes many infections including: abscesses, boils, cellulitis, pneumonia, sepsis, and food poisoning.
  • Streptococcal bacteria (causes many infections including, ear infection, bacterial meningitis, pneumonia and strep throat – sore throat cause by streptococcal infection)

Serious bacterial infections

Bacterial infection can cause serious, life-threatening illnesses. These include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Sepsis – (sometimes referred to as septicaemia or blood poisoning) – often following a surgical procedure

The role of antibiotics

The medical fraternity’s first line of defence in combating bacterial infection is antibiotic medication. Antibiotics were discovered in the 1940s and they revolutionised the way that clinicians were able to cure infections caused by the various forms of bacteria.

The development of Antibiotic resistant bacteria

Unfortunately, bacteria are able to adept very quickly. That, the reported over-prescribing of antibiotics (sometimes as a purely precautionary measure), and the fact that many people never complete the full course of antibiotics for the prescribed period, has led to the development of antibiotic strains of bacteria. The most infamous strain of antibiotic resistant bacteria is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus; or MRSA, often referred to as the “superbug” that many patients pick up in hospital.

Common types of antibiotics used in the UK

Thankfully there are a number of different antibiotics that are in use here in the UK at present, so in most cases, a suitable antibiotic can be found for most bacterial infections. The range available includes:

  • Penicillins – examples include Amoxicillin, Flucloxacillin and Phenoxymethylpenicillin
  • Cephalosporins – examples include Cefaclor, Cefadroxil and Cefalexin
  • Tetracylines – examples include Doxycycline, Lymecycline and Tetracycline
  • Aminoglycosides – examples include Gentamicin and Tobramycin
  • Macrolides – examples include Azithromycin, Clarithromycin and Clindamycin
  • Sulphonamides and Trimethoprim examples include Co-trimoxazole, Metronidazole and Tinidazole
  • Quinolones – examples include Ciprofloxacin, Levofloxacin and Norfloxacin

Common symptoms that could indicate a bacterial infection

Given the number of different bacteria, bacterial infections, and other varying factors such as which part of the body has been infected, the symptoms are varied and can include:

  • Blood in your urine
  • The need to urinate often
  • Pain when urinating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Symptoms similar to flu
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Pain in the ear
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Developing a rash
  • Developing boils or abscesses
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Fatigue and weakness

The common symptoms of bacterial infection in young people

Infection in young people is often more difficult to diagnose. Things to look out for include:

  • A bulge in the soft spot on top of the head 
  • Unusual difficulty with feeding
  • Cries or appears more fussy than normal
  • Excessively sleepy

Broadgate Clinic London Wall – the private walk-in clinic Londoners can access without appointment

If you live and/or work in London you may find it convenient and useful to fall back on the walk-in clinic London Wall based services of Broadgate GP. You can drop in off the street without appointment at a time to suit your busy working schedule. Our clinicians can diagnose your condition, and if you do have a bacterial infection, will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic treatment.

Contact or visit us today!