How Are Bacterial Infections Diagnosed?


Quick Answer

Doctors diagnose bacterial infections by evaluating a person's medical history and performing a physical exam, according to WebMD. They sometimes order a urine or blood test to verify a diagnosis. A culture test of tissue may be necessary to detect bacteria or viruses.

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Numerous illnesses result from bacteria or viruses, which is why it can be tough for physicians to identify the cause of an infection, notes WebMD. Doctors may perform a biopsy of the affected tissue to diagnose a bacterial infection properly.

Pathogenic bacteria are harmful bacteria that lead to bacterial diseases when they reach a normally sterile body part, such as the bladder, explains Healthgrades. They can also overwhelm good bacteria in certain body parts. Pathogenic bacteria typically enter the body through contamination of skin, gum or tissue breaks; consumption of contaminated food; and bites by infected insects.

Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics to kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying, states Healthgrades. Different bacterial diseases require varying types of antibiotics. Patients receive antibiotics through oral intake, intravenous therapy or intramuscular injection. Physicians also recommend proper nutrition, rest, increased fluid intake or hospitalization and intensive care, particularly if complications arise. To reduce a person's risk of developing or spreading a bacterial disease, it is important to avoid contact with sick individuals and wash hands regularly.

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