What Is a Staph Infection? & Staph Infection Symptoms

There are plenty of bacteria in the body, but not all of them cause significant problems. Sometimes, they even protect our bodies against other pathogens that would cause serious health issues. Staphylococcus bacteria are a group of microorganisms that are commonly found in the mucosa of the nose and all over our skin. As long as these bacteria stay at bay, Staph colonization in the skin won’t turn into an infection. But when Staph bacteria penetrate deeper into the skin or have access to blood vessels as in wounds and open trauma, they might cause life-threatening infections that do not respond to conventional antibiotic therapy.

Staphylococcus is the name of the invading bacteria, and depending on the location of the infection, we can have a different group of signs and symptoms. In this article, we will review the signs and symptoms of Staph infections in the most common clinical situations: food poisoning and skin infections.

Food poisoning

It is one of the most common types of food poisoning, and it usually happens when food is contaminated by the toxins produced by certain strains of Staphylococcus bacteria. It often comes from incorrect handling and storing of food that allows for Staphylococcus bacteria to stay in foods for long enough to start releasing toxins. When this happens, it is difficult to avoid because the heat would destroy the bacteria, but the toxins would remain and cause these symptoms:

1Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting

After ingesting food that’s been contaminated with the Staphylococcus enterotoxin, the first symptom is usually nausea and vomiting. This is the result of the interaction between the toxin and the gastrointestinal mucosa, which activates the emetic center in the brain, and sends the signal to the upper part of the digestive tract to expel its contents through vomiting. Thus, this symptom is nothing more than one of the defense lines our body has against the enterotoxin, trying to take it out of the organism.

Nausea and vomiting from a Staph infection usually have a very rapid onset. After eating contaminated food, nausea may start as quickly as one hour, and no more than 6 hours after ingestion. Along with nausea and vomiting, most patients describe abdominal pain and cramping, which aggravates along with the rest of the symptom. Nausea and vomiting usually escalate over time and may turn out to be explosive vomiting that’s very difficult to control. However, it is also a self-limited symptom, which means it does not last for more than one day regardless of whether or not we are following medical treatment.