What are the Different Types of Bacterial Symptoms?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 March 2018
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The list of potential bacterial symptoms is exceptionally long. This is because bacteria can invade the body in a number of different places. It can infect the gut, the skin, the kidneys or bladder, the vagina or penis, the mouth, the major organs, the joints or the bloodstream. Depending on type of bacteria and the part of the body it attacks, symptoms are greatly varied in expression.

Bacteria that principally attack the gut often produce symptoms of stomach upset. Initially people might have vomiting or diarrhea, stomach pain, heartburn, and flatulence. Depending on the type of bacteria, the symptoms could resolve or they may continue for a long period of time. For instance, many people recover from salmonella food poisoning without treatment, but that might be more difficult to do if a person has eaten food contaminated with E. coli.

A number of people will experience bacterial skin infections that could lead to bacterial symptoms like rash or rash that shows evidence of pus. When open sores are involved this can be quite dangerous because it runs the risk of germs getting into the bloodstream through sores. Alternately, some skin infections can migrate into a joint and cause swelling and soreness.


It’s possible for the genitals to exhibit bacterial symptoms, that could include leakage of discharge, itching, peculiar smell in the vagina, and discomfort and/or bleeding during intercourse. Some of these infections simply represent imbalance between fungal and bacterial elements, especially in the vagina, and others may be sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis or gonorrhea. Such infections occasionally move to the urinary tract and might result in a burning pain when urinating, dark colored or bloody urine, and a feeling of needing to the use the restroom all the time. Urinary tract infections don’t need to originate in the genitalia and may occur on their own.

People may find they have bacterial symptoms in the mouth or the throat. Strep throat causes an extremely sore throat and sometimes shows evidence of white spots. Tongues can occasionally get infected as well. The teeth may become abscessed if infection builds underneath them, and this could result in prominent bumps on the gums and significant soreness.

Sometimes a person will get one very swollen and sore joint, on the knee, the knuckle or elsewhere. This could be from injury, but it can also suggest build-up of bacteria in the joint. Alternately, organs may show bacterial symptoms. The lungs can be filled with infected fluid (pneumonia), and this might result in coughing, extreme fatigue, and difficulty breathing. Even the heart can develop bacterial endocarditis, where vegetative matter can grow in the valve, significantly limiting efficient heart function.

Bacteria can invade the entire body through the bloodstream, called sepsis. This becomes a major emergency because through the bloodstream there is access to every organ and every part of the body. The bacterial symptoms of blood infection would include high fever, extreme fatigue, possibly shock, and multi-organ failure.

One of the bacterial symptoms that many forms of infection have in common is mild to moderate fever. While some people may not have a fever and still be sick, in many infections with bacteria this element is present. It can be a good litmus test for determining whether a person is sick with a bacterial illness. The best way to determine presence of infection is to a see a doctor for diagnosis.



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