Pseudomonas Aeruginosa: The Facts

Whilst this term might seem confusing to first time readers, this form of illness-causing bacteria are actually more common than you might think.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa: The Facts

But what exactly is pseudomonas aeruginosa, and what harm can it cause? 

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

Part of the Pseudomonas group of bacteria, Aeruginosa can cause various infections, and is the most commonly found type of bacteria within this group.

Whilst primarily occurring in medical settings, such as hospital and doctors surgeries, people have been known to develop infections after spending time in swimming pools and hot tubs, which are a breeding ground for bacteria in general. 

The Signs & Symptoms

When it comes to the infections caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa, there are several symptoms and signs to watch out for. 

The types of infections it can cause consist of lung infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), wound infections, and ear infections, and each have their own symptoms. 

Lung Infections

An infection of the lungs, which in the case of this bacteria manifests itself as pneumonia, comes with a wide array of alarming symptoms.

These can include: 

  • Chills.
  • Fever. 
  • Breathing difficulties. 
  • Chest pain. 
  • Tiredness and fatigue. 
  • A persistent cough, often accompanied by yellow/green mucus or blood. 

Urinary Tract Infections

A fairly common and particularly unpleasant infection, the symptoms of a UTI can include: 

  • A strong urge to frequently urinate. 
  • Pain whilst urinating. 
  • Unpleasant smelling urine. 
  • Cloudy urine, or speckled with blood. 
  • Pain located in the pelvic region. 

Wound Infections

These can be attained both at hospital or in public swimming pools and hot tubs where bacteria can be prevalent. 

The symptoms for this include: 

  • Inflamed wound. 
  • Fluid leakage from wound. 

Ear Infections

Ear infections are incredibly common. People get these from swimming pools and hot tubs, and are a side effect of bacteria that can be present in the water. 

Despite their commonality, these can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable, and the symptom include: 

  • Pain in the ears. 
  • A decrease in hearing. 
  • Redness of the outer ear. 
  • Swelling of the outer ear. 
  • Fever. 

The Causes 

As with any bacterial infections, there are several common and uncommon ways they can be contracted. 

Poor Hygiene Standards

First and foremost, pseudomonas aeruginosa is caused by poor hygiene. This is especially true of hospital borne strains of the infection, and can mean that bacteria infections can run rife within these supposedly safe and sterile locations. 

This can be due to unsanitary conditions, unwashed hands of healthcare workers, doctors or surgeons, or improperly cleaned medical equipment left lying around. 

These typically affect people who have long term medical conditions, low immune systems following a bout of illness, or people who are already ill.

Open wounds, burns, and intravenous catheters are all prime spots for the bacteria to take hold, and can cause particularly nasty complications if not caught in time. 

Contaminated Water

Somewhat related to the last section, contaminated water can be a leading cause of pseudomonas aeruginosa, which makes swimming pools and hot tubs hotbeds for infection. 

What’s more, this strain of the bacteria can harm healthy people, and can be caused by simple things like improperly cleaned pools and hot tubs. 

Symptoms associated with waterborne variants are skin rashes, and ear infections, although people with contact lenses also run the risk of eye infections. 

The Diagnosis

The Diagnosis

Depending on the type of infection, diagnosis can be achieved by sending a bacteriological sample. This is generally done in the form of a blood test, although most sample methods will be sufficient. 

Blood Tests

As mentioned, the most common method is a blood test, and this, in correlation with the medical history of the patient, and their current health, will determine the prognosis. 

If patients are in good health, and get quick access to antibiotics, then they are almost certain to be fine.

However, underlying health problems, such as blood infections or blood cancers, can mean that any kind of infection can cause more serious damage. 

The Treatment

As with most milder infections, especially waterborne ones pertaining to the ear or urinary tract, can be treated with an over the counter form of antibiotics. 

More serious infections on the other hand, such as blood infections contracted in hospitals are harder to treat, particularly with the increase in resistant strains of bacteria. 

In this case, resistance is prevented by giving patients a varied course of antibiotics. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about pseudomonas aeruginosa, and the best ways to avoid, treat, and diagnose it. 

Remember, the best medicine is hygiene and good pool maintenance, but if you show any of the above symptoms, seek the advice of your healthcare provider as soon as possible!

Jennifer Dawkins

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