Anaerobic infection

Anaerobic Infection

Description, Causes And Risk Factors:

Bacteria is unicellular prokaryotic microorganism that usually multiplies by cell division. They may be aerobic or anaerobic, motile or nonmotile, and free-living, saprophytic, commensal, parasitic, or pathogenic. This are invisible to the naked eye and can be seen only through a microscope. They are found everywhere and can survive in any type of environment. Bacteria are of different shapes and are measured in micrometer (?m).

There are three types of anaerobic bacteria, obligate anaerobes, facultative anaerobes and aerotolerant anaerobes. Some anaerobic bacteria are harmful to human beings and can cause various kinds of diseases.

An anaerobic infection is an infection caused by anaerobes (bacteria that cannot survive in the presence of a high oxidation-reduction potential). Anaerobic bacteria can infect deep wounds, deep tissues, and internal organs where there is little oxygen. These infections are characterized by abscess formation, foul-smelling pus, and tissue destruction. Commonly known diseases caused by anaerobic bacteria include gas gangrene, tetanus, and botulism. Nearly all dental infections are caused by anaerobic bacteria. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are also caused by anaerobic bacteria.

Anaerobic infection

Anaerobic bacteria can cause an infection when a normal barrier (such as skin, gums, or intestinal wall) is damaged due to injury, surgery, or disease. Usually, the immune system kills any invading bacteria, but sometimes the bacteria are able to grow and cause an infection. Body sites that have tissue destruction (necrosis) or a poor blood supply are low in oxygen and favor the growth of anaerobic bacteria.

Risk Factors:

People who have experienced shock, injury, or surgery, and those with blood vessel disease or tumors are at an increased risk for infection by anaerobic bacteria.


Common Symptoms:

    Fever with or without chills.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Low blood pressure.

  • Tachycardia (Fast heart beat).

Anaerobic bacteria can cause infection practically anywhere in the body.

    Tooth and gum infection, gingivitis.

  • Throat infection, sore throat, bad breath.

  • Lung infection, pneumonia, empyema, lung abscesses, and bronchiectasis.

  • Intraabdominal infection, appendicitis, peritonitis.


The diagnosis of anaerobic infections can be difficult, but it may be expedited by the recognition of certain clinical signs. Predisposing conditions and bacteriologic hints should alert the physician, who may apply diagnostic procedures to ascertain the nature of the pathogens and the extent of the infection. Almost all anaerobic infections originate from the patient's own microflora.

The diagnosis of anaerobic infection is based primarily on symptoms, the patient's medical history, and location of the infection. A foul-smelling infection or drainage from an abscess is diagnostic of anaerobic infection. Other clues to anaerobic infection include tissue necrosis and gas production at the infection site. A sample from the infected site may be obtained, using a swab or a needle and syringe, to determine which bacteria is (are) causing the infection.


The management of anaerobic infection needs to be prompt and appropriate in order to ensure recovery. Managment includes the use of hyperbaric oxygen, surgical methoids, and antimicrobial therapy. Various factors, such as efficacy, bacterial antimicrobial resistance, ability to reach appropriate antimicrobial levels at the infected site, toxicity and stability need to be taken into account in choosing antimicrobial agents. Some antimicrobials have poor activity against anaerobic bacteria. The more sutiable agents include cephalosporins, penicillin, carbapenems, chloramphenicol, clindamycin, metronidazole, macrolides, glycopeptides, tetracyclines, and quinolones.

Surgical removal or drainage of the abscess is almost always required. This may involve drainage by needle and syringe to remove the pus from a skin abscess (aspiration). The area would be numbed prior to the aspiration procedure. Also, some internal abscesses can be drained using this procedure with the help of ultrasound.

Disclaimer: The following tests, drugs and medications, surgical procedures are in some way related to, or used in the treatment. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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