Symptoms of Staphylococcus infection will be much clearer and easier to understand if we first know what Staphylococcus is.
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What Is Staphylococcus?
Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria that can cause a wide range of infectious diseases in various tissues of the human body.
Staphylococcus is commonly called “Staph” (pronounced as “staff”).
Some Staph-related illnesses are mild, and may not require any treatment, while others are so severe that it can lead to the death of the carrier.
The name “Staphylococcus” has its origins from the Greek word “Staphyle”, which means a bunch of grapes, and “Kokkos”, which means berry. Under the microscope, staph bacteria have a strong resemblance to grapes and berries.
Humans can be infected by more than 30 different types of Staphylococci, but the most consistent in humans is Staphylococcus Aureus.
The nose and the skin is where Staph bacteria is commonly found.
A cut or damage to the skin can allow the bacteria to overcome the natural protective mechanisms on the body, which will ultimately lead to an infection.
Symptoms Of Staphylococcus
There are several symptoms of Staph Infections, it all depends on the type of Staph you have.
The symptoms include –
- Redness of th skin
- Painful lumps and swelling
- Quick heartbeat
Some people carry Staph bacteria on the skin or in their nose, but they experience zero symptoms.
Let us take a more in-depth look at the various symptoms of Staph Infections.
Symptoms Of Staph Infections On The Skin
Staph infections on the skin lead to less harmful symptoms than those that penetrate into the body.
This is not to say that Staph infections on the skin shouldn’t be treated. If left untreated, they could spread and lead to more serious conditions.
Below are some skin infections that are caused by Staph –
This is a situation where the hair follicles have been infected by Staph. They appear in the form of reddish bumps or pimples and are filled with pus.
They can lead to itching, pain and a burning sensation on the affected areas.
This is a more serious version of Folliculitis, which start off as pea-sized bumps that are appear reddish.
When touched, the patient will feel a painful sensation.
As pus is being gathered under the skin, the boil may start to turn whitish and then gradually grows bigger.
The boil can rupture on its own and the pus flows out, or you can have a doctor drain the pus clinically.
This is a pus-filled infection that develops under the skin. It is similar to a boil but it goes deeper into the body.
The affected area is usually swollen and reddish in color, it is also painful when touched.
Fever is another symptom associated with skin abscess.
Cellulitis mainly occurs around the leg, and its symptoms include redness, swelling, warmth and pain around the affected area.
As the infection spreads, the patient may begin to feel feverish and weak.
The patient may also develop tiny red spots around the reddened part of the infected skin, along with blisters that could burst open.
This is a Staph Infection that occurs commonly on the face, hand, and feet.
It causes red sores that break open and release an offensive odor. After a few days, the blisters transform into a yellowish/brown crust.
This infection can cause pain in the affected area, but not in all cases.
Must Read: How to Treat Toilet Infection
Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome (SSSS)
Babies and young children are the ones most affected by this infection. SSSS is caused by toxins released by Staph bacteria.
SSSS has many symptoms, these are –
- Development of rashes
- Blisters (which rupture easily)
- Pain in affected area of the skin
The top layer of the affected part of the skin may also peel off, giving it a scalded look.
This infection causes children to be tired. It is a very serious infection and requires urgent medical attention.
Symptoms Of Invasive Staph Infections
Invasive Staph infections come with serious symptoms that require urgent medical attention.
The symptoms vary, depending on your overall health, the type of infection, and the area where the infection is located.
Sepsis has very serious symptoms which must be treated as fast as one notices them.
These symptoms include fast breathing, fever, chills and disorientation.
You will be diagnosed with sepsis if you have an infection and at least two of these symptoms
- A heart rate that’s higher than 90 beats per minute
- A body temperature higher than 101°F or below 96.8°F
- A respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths per minute
Sepsis can develop into a severe condition called septic shock. During this state, a patient’s blood pressure becomes dangerously low.
Septic Arthritis is a Staph infection in the joints. This causes you to feel significant pain around the infected joint every time you try to move.
Other symptoms of Septic Arthritis is redness around the affected joint, warmth and swelling. It could also cause a fever, although not in all cases.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic Shock Syndrome is very dangerous, this is when Staph bacteria enters a person’s blood stream and releases toxins. This can lead to death and must be attended to urgently.
Its symptoms include –
- Sudden high fever
- Low blood pressure
- A sunburn-like rash, usually found on the patient’s palm or sole of the feet
- Muscle aches
- Redness in eye, mouth or throat
This is a Staph infection that targets the heart. It is very dangerous, its symptoms include –
- Fever and chills
- Night sweats
- New or changed heart murmur
- Shortness of breath
- Pains in joints and muscles
- Chest pain during breathing
- Swelling in feet, legs and stomach
Staphylococcus & Pneumonia
Staph bacterium is one of the many types of bacteria that can cause Pneumonia.
Its symptoms include:
- A severe, phlegm producing cough
- Chest pain when the patient breathes or coughs
- Sweating, shaking, chills
- Confusion (common in older adults)
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
- Low body temperature (especially in older adults with weak immune system)
Overview Of Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning
People who contact Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning (SFP), and are eventually cured, do not have lasting effects of the bacteria in their bodies.
There are some exceptions to this though – Babies, aged people and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe symptoms than the regular, healthy person.
Special cases like this should be taken very seriously as it can lead to death.
Symptoms Of Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning
Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria is very common and it can be found in the nose and skin of about 25% of healthy people in the world.
This bacterium has the ability to produce 7 different toxins which can lead to food poisoning.
It is common for food workers who carry Staph Aureus to transfer the bacteria to foods like milk and cheese.
The good news is, most Staph Aureus food poisoning cases aren’t life threatening. Victims can get over it on their own in about a day or two without receiving any treatment.
The symptoms of Staph Aureus food poisoning include:
- Abdominal cramps
The illness caused by Staph Aureus bacteria is usually mild.
Causes Of Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning
SFP is caused by contaminated food products, it is very tolerant to salt and it can grow on meat and dairy products.
Staph Aureus produces heat resistant toxins, so they cannot be destroyed by cooking. Once the bacteria has been deposited on the food, it starts to multiply.
Foods that are mostly connected to SFP are cheese and milk, and they get contaminated through contact with the workers who already carry the bacteria.
Foods that are handled often, and are stored at room temperature are the ones most vulnerable to Staph Aureus contamination.
These foods include the following :
- Cold salads (tuna, ham, macaroni and chicken)
- Sliced deli meats
- Cream-filled pastries
In most cases, an SFP does not require a trip to the clinic or any medication. Rest is really all you need to overcome it. Recovery period is usually between 1-3 days.
However, if symptoms persist after the 3rd day, then you need to go and see your personal physician for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Prevention Of Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning
You can take the steps listed out below to prevent Staphylococcus Aureus Food Poisoning (SFP).
- Do not consume unpasteurized milk
- Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands and under your fingernails before you cook, serve food or eat
- Ensure that the surfaces where your food is prepared are clean and germ-free
- Store hot food at temperature of 140°F and above, and cold food at temperatures of 40°F and lower
- If you have a sore or wound around your hands, then you should leave cooking duties to someone else. You also shouldn’t serve food in that condition
Diagnosing A Staph Infection
For a Staph infection to be diagnosed, your doctor will have to carefully take all your symptoms into account. Not all symptoms are visible (like pain), but the ones that are (like swelling) would also need to be examined by your doctor.
Nasal secretion, tissue samples, and wound secretions have to be collected by your doctor for testing. If the infection is internal, then blood samples need to be collected to test for Staph bacteria.
Internal infections can also be determined with the use of X-Rays or other imaging devices.
Do not self-diagnose, Staph infections can lead to very serious symptoms which can be deadly.
Go straight to your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms I have mentioned above.
How To Treat Staphylococcus
The best treatment of staph infections depend on the type of Staph bacteria the patient is dealing with. The part of the body when the infection is located is another factor.
The treatments may include the following:
After your doctor has diagnosed the infection, he can determine the type of antibiotics to use for treatment base on the symptoms of staphylococcus he discovered.
Cephalosporin, Nafcillin, sulfa drug, and vancomycin are among the most common antibiotics used to treat Staph infections.
Many trains of Staph bacteria are resistant to many antibiotics; vancomycin however, is given intravenously, which makes it more effective than others.
If oral antibiotics are prescribed to you, then make sure you take and finish it as prescribed by your doctor.
Watch out for symptoms, and observe if they are worsening or improving.
Staph infections can cause pus to build up in boils on your skin. Your doctor can drain out the pus by making an incision on the surface of the boil and guide the pus out.
Staph Resistance To Antibiotics
Staph bacteria can adapt to almost any situation, which is why they resist many types of antibiotics. In fact, only about 10% of Staph infections can be cured with penicillin.
This resistance has made popular the use of IV antibiotics such as vancomycin.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Do You Get Contaminated By Staphylococcus Aureus?
You can contact Staph by making direct contact with a contaminated person or object.
- What Causes Urinary Staph Infections?
This occurs when Staph Aureus bacteria makes its way into your gut.
- What Foods Are Associated With Staphylococcus Aureus?
The foods commonly associated with Staph Aureus include – meat, cheese, cold salads, poultry and egg products, meat pies, cream pies, and chocolate eclairs.
- What Is The Common Name For Staphylococcus Aureus?
It is commonly referred to as “Staph”. It is also called Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MSRA) because of its resistance to Methicillin antibiotics.
How Do I Get Rid Of Staphylococcus Aureus?
No matter what the symptoms of staphylococcus infection you are having, follow these steps to get rid of it :
- Use topical prescription antibiotics like mupirocin in the nostrils twice daily for about 2 weeks
- Keep your fingernails short and clean
- Wash your hands thoroughly as many times as necessary
- Use disinfectants and sanitizers to clean off surfaces, especially cooking surfaces
- Consider using antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
Staphylococcus infections vary, and so do their symptoms. Some are mild and potentially harmless, while other symptoms may pose a more serious threat.
Be sure to consult your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms pointed out in this article.
Have you experienced any symptoms of Staphylococcus before? May be, without knowing you have contacted the infection?
We would like to read your experience especially how you handled any of the symptoms of Staphylococcus infection.