Pseudomonas aeruginosa or P. aeruginosa is among the most common organisms causing infections in humans. It is the second most common organism responsible for nosocomial pneumonia in 17% of cases. It is the third most common organism responsible for causing urinary tract infections in 11% of cases. It is important to mention though that pseudomonas aeruginosa infection does not affect healthy people – it is an opportunistic pathogen and usually causes disease in people with compromised immune system or another underlying disorder.
Who Gets Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infections?
Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other pseudomonas bacteria are present throughout the world in water and soil. They thrive in moist areas, such as toilets, sinks, hot tubs, and inadequately chlorinated swimming pools. They may also live in the genital area of healthy people.
A pseudomonas aeruginosa infection can be mild or turn into a life-threatening disorder. Infections usually occur in people who have diabetes, are weakened by severe disorders, are hospitalized, or have another disorder that weakens the immune system, such as HIV. You may end up developing an infection if you take drugs that would suppress your immune system.
P. aeruginosa can infect the skin, blood, eyes, ear, bones, heart valves, urinary tract, and lungs. It may also infect wounds, such as injuries, burns, or wounds made because of surgery. Some people become infected when they use medical devices, such as catheters inserted into a vein or the bladder. Use other medical devices such as mechanical ventilators and breathing tubes can also increase your risk.
Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection Symptoms
As mentioned already, the organism can infect blood, skin, lungs, eyes, heart valves and ears, so the symptoms may vary depending on the infection site. For instance:
- Blood: You may develop a bacterial infection of the blood called bacteremia that may cause symptoms such as chills, fever, muscle and joint pains, and severe fatigue.
- Lungs: When it causes the infection of the lungs (pneumonia), it will produce symptoms such as fever, chills, difficulty breathing, and cough that is productive.
- Skin: A skin infection caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa is called folliculitis that produces symptoms such as bleeding ulcers, itchy rash, and severe headache.
- Ear: P. aeruginosa can also cause an external ear canal infection. It also causes a deep ear infection called malignant external Otitis in people with diabetes and produces symptoms such as ear pain, swelling, discharge from the ear, itching inside the ear, and difficulty hearing. Inflammation of tissues around the ear and nerve damage may also be the result of pseudomonas aeruginosa infection of the ear.
- Eye: If it infects your eyes, you are more likely to deal with symptoms such as pus, inflammation, swelling, impaired vision, and redness.
- Soft-tissue infections: These infections include those in tendons, muscle, fat, ligament, and skin. The infection usually occurs in deep puncture wounds in the feet. The organism can also infect burns, pressure sores, and wounds due to surgery or injuries. P. aeruginosa grows in soiled dressings and changes its color to green.
- Bones and joins: These infections usually occur in the pubic bone, spine, and the joint between the breastbone and collarbone. The bacteria travel to bones through bloodstream. People who use illegal intravenous drugs are at a greater risk of developing these infections.
- Heart valve: While these infections are rare, people who use intravenous drugs or already have artificial heart valves can develop a P. aeruginosa infection.
Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection Treatments
Once you develop a P. aeruginosa infection, your doctor will give you antibiotics to clear the infection. It is not easy to find the most effective antibiotic in this case because these bacteria are usually quite resistant to most of the medicines. To determine the most appropriate antibiotic treatment, your doctor may order a blood test to make sure which antibiotic will prove more effective.
In most cases, your doctor gives you some specific types of antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin, ceftazidime, cefepime, aminoglycosides, ticarcillin, carbapenems, aztreonam, and ureidopenicillins. When antibiotics do not work, you may have to undergo a surgery to have infected tissue removed.
- Antibiotics help clear infections but they are not effective against viral infections. Excessive use of antibiotics, especially when they are not required will hurt your immune system and make you vulnerable to infections.
- Take antibiotics as prescribed. Follow the dosage guidelines. Never use antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infection Preventions
As mentioned already, P. aeruginosa is an antibiotic-resistant organism, so it is better to take steps to avoid getting infected in the first place. Taking the following steps will help prevent pseudomonas aeruginosa infection.
Practice Good Hygiene
- Wash your hands frequently to avoid contracting the infection. This is also the most effective way to avoid spreading it. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or a good quality soap to wash your hands properly.
- Pay special attention to keeping scrapes and cuts clean covered with a clean bandage. Do not touch other people's bandages or wounds.
- Avoid sharing your personal items like razors or towels with others.
- If you are admitted in the hospital, it is important to remind your doctor to wash their hands properly before they examine you. Always cover your wounds with dry bandages if you are already infected. Also, ask anyone changing your bandages to wash their hands after changing. Moreover, you should use a disinfectant to wipe clean all surfaces that you touch to avoid spreading the infection.