The staphylococcus bacteria are everywhere and one of the primary causes of illness in humans. Staphylococcus symptoms of infection will depend upon the location and severity of the infection. The most common form of staphylococcus symptoms will present themselves as a skin or soft tissue abnormality.
Skin – Several different forms of staphylococcal infections affect the skin. These include:
- Boils – A hair follicle becomes infected and pus develops. The area becomes red and inflamed. The sore may break open and liquid (pus and blood) flow out.
- Impetigo -Generally found in infants and children, a raised bump rash occurs that forms blisters. The blisters ooze yellow pus.
- Cellulitis– This infection occurs in the under layers of the skin in the soft tissues. The skin becomes rough and dimpled. The inflamed tissues then become infected and may weep fluid. It is most common in the lower limbs (legs).
Urinary Tract – When staph enter the urethra (opening that urine exits the body from) a UTI (urinary tract infection) can occur. Symptoms include pain or burning when you urinate, strong urine odor, cloudy amber colored urine and pelvic discomfort.
Blood – Commonly referred to as blood poisoning, staph enters the bloodstream and travel to organs and tissues within the body. The heart, lungs, joints and other vital organs can be damaged. Marked by a high fever and many times accompanied by a recent staph infection, this is very serious and may become life threatening. Patients who have had surgery, an untreated urinary tract infection, cellulitis or infected wound can develop a staph infection of the blood.
Respiratory – Staph that sets up in the sinuses and respiratory tract causes symptoms such as fever, coughing with green or yellow mucous. Bronchitis and pneumonia may result from a staph infection of the respiratory tract.
Gastrointestinal – Staphylococcus symptoms can present themselves as staph related food poisoning. Abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that comes on suddenly; lasts one to two days and then disappears quickly with a full recovery may indicate food poisoning caused by staph bacteria. Many people do not know they have food poisoning, instead thinking they have a stomach virus. Since they generally experience symptoms for a brief time; they do not seek medical treatment.
Prevention and Treatment of Staphylococcus Symptoms
If you suspect you have staphylococcus symptoms you should see your doctor promptly. Your doctor will determine if staphylococcus is causing your symptoms and what antibiotic treatment you should be given. Unfortunately, staphylococcus bacteria are very hardy and able to mutate quickly.
Due to this (and the overuse of antibiotics for non bacterial infections); some strains of staph bacteria have become immune to antibiotics. Previously, penicillin was quite effective, now MRSA (methicillen resistant) bacteria are causing widespread illness, particularly in the very young/old, immune suppressed and hospital patients. MRSA is challenging hospitals in their protocols to control infectious contamination of patients.
In order to protect yourself, the single most effective thing to do is wash your hands frequently. The simple act of washing your hands reduces staph contamination dramatically. If you receive treatment from a health professional you should insist they wash their hands thoroughly before giving any care to you.
Other ways to reduce your risk of developing an infection are to wash and cover any cuts or abrasions promptly, follow safe food handling precautions and keep your body in good health (so that it can protect itself).