What is a chronic infection?

A chronic infection refers to a case that does not respond to treatment, lasts for weeks, or comes back despite treatment. Furthermore, a chronic infection can affect virtually any system in the human body, such as the urinary, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and circulatory systems. Examples of chronic infections include chronic ear infections, chronic urinary tract infections, and chronic skin infections.

Treatment for a chronic infection may include antibiotics. If a chronic infection is determined to be related to a bacterial organism, antibiotics may be the treatment of choice. However, if the chronic infection is related to a viral organism, antibiotics will not clear the infection. The doctor must evaluate the infection and its origin before prescribing antibiotics to avoid the appearance of a resistant infection in the future.

An ongoing infection can be the result of a suppressed immune system, stress, or a highly virulent strain of bacteria. Also, a chronic infection can occur when the prescribed antibiotics are not strong enough or when the patient does not fill their entire prescription. To determine which antibiotics are appropriate for certain infections, your doctor may sometimes order a medical test called a culture and sensitivity test to determine if a particular organism will be sensitive to a specific antibiotic.

Certain medications can also contribute to a chronic infection. For example, a chronic urinary infection can be caused by urinary retention. When urine is forced to stay in the bladder for long periods of time, bacteria can grow and cause an infection. Medications that can contribute to urinary retention include antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, and prescription pain relievers.

When a doctor tries to determine whether a patient has an acute infection or a chronic infection, he or she will take a few factors into account. One of these factors is the timeline of the infection. If the infection lasts more than a few weeks, it is most likely chronic. Also, if the infection is especially resistant to antibiotics or other treatments, it may be determined to be chronic.

In general, the treatment for chronic infections and acute infections are similar. However, one of the differences may be the length of time the patient receives treatment. For acute infections, antibiotics are usually prescribed for 10 days. For chronic infections, a double course of antibiotics may be recommended, or different types of antibiotics may be given consecutively. Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, however, your doctor may recommend remedies to reduce the risk of side effects.

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