Signs of Infection

November 26, 2014
Person with a minor infection seeks treatment.

Infections occur when open wounds or sores allow bacteria to enter our bodies and overwhelm our immune systems. Infections can originate from various sources, including cuts, scratches, puncture wounds, pimples, blisters, and burns, but they may also occur as a result of inhaling or ingesting airborne droplets containing infectious particles. Because they can lead to serious complications, infections demand quick medical intervention, especially if you notice specific telltale symptoms.

What Are Some of the Most Common Infections?

Infections are never fun, but some are more easily managed than others. Some of the most common infections are:

  • Upper respiratory tract infections – The common cold, influenza, sinusitis, and tonsillitis are among the most common upper respiratory infections. These infections affect the throat, nose, and sinuses and are typically caused by viruses.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) – UTIs occur in the urinary system, primarily in the bladder and urethra. Symptoms may include frequent urination, burning while urinating, or blood in the urine.
  • Skin infections – Skin infections are spread by bacteria, viruses, and fungi and can result in cellulitis, impetigo, and fungal infections like athlete’s foot.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – These infections are often transmitted through sexual contact and include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and human papillomavirus (HPV). 
  • Ear infections – These infections are very common in adults and children and can cause ear pain, discharge, and temporary hearing loss.

What Is a Staph Infection?

Caused by staphylococcus bacteria, staph infections can lead to serious health problems, especially if the microorganism is resistant to antibiotics. Many times, these infections appear as boils, cellulitis, or impetigo, which causes swelling and redness on the surface of the skin. Sores, blisters, or an oozing discharge may also develop. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

The Importance of Medical Intervention

Infections can be concerning, causing discomfort and potentially leading to serious health complications if left untreated. If you start to experience symptoms of infection, you’ll want to consult a medical professional as soon as possible. Some symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

  • Increased pain or swelling
  • A foul smell from the wound
  • Pus-like drainage
  • Fever or chills
  • Increased redness around the wound
  • Red streaks moving away from the wound

Serious infections can result in a host of major problems, including sepsis, tissue death, and amputation.


A serious medical condition involving the blood, sepsis occurs when the body has an overwhelming immune response to infection. It can result in widespread inflammation, which can lead to a life-threatening drop in blood pressure, organ failure, and death.

Since it can originate in different parts of the body, sepsis can produce a range of symptoms, including:

  • Confusion
  • Very low body temperature
  • Fever and chills
  • Decreased urination
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Tissue Death

Tissue death caused by infection, known as necrosis, occurs when the infection disrupts the blood supply and oxygen delivery to a specific area of tissue. Infections can trigger an inflammatory response, leading to the release of toxic substances that damage surrounding cells. The compromised blood flow prevents essential nutrients and oxygen from reaching the affected tissue, resulting in tissue death. Necrotic tissue may appear discolored and swollen and may emit a foul odor. If not treated promptly, necrotic tissue can lead to further complications, such as the spread of infection, abscess formation, or systemic infection. Surgical intervention and appropriate antimicrobial therapy are often necessary to remove the necrotic tissue and promote healing.


Amputation caused by infection is rare, but it results from an infection that has progressed to an extent where it threatens the viability and function of a limb or body part. When the infection reaches a critical stage and poses a risk to the patient's life or causes significant impairment, amputation may be necessary to prevent the infection from spreading further. Amputation aims to remove the infected tissue and prevent the infection from spreading to healthy areas of the body. Rehabilitation and prosthetic options can help individuals regain function and adapt to their new circumstances after surgery.

How to Prevent Infections

Preventing infections from occurring is easier said than done, but there are several precautions you can take to stop the occurrence and spread of infections:

  • Practice good hygiene – Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after using the restroom, and after being in public places.
  • Follow vaccination guidelines – Stay up to date with recommended vaccinations to protect yourself and others from vaccine-preventable infections, such as influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, and pneumococcal disease.
  • Practice food safety – Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, cook foods to the appropriate temperatures, and avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw and cooked foods separate.
  • Promote a clean environment – Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, and electronic devices.
  • Practice safe sexual behaviors – Use barrier methods, such as condoms, to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Consider regular STI screenings if you are sexually active or have multiple partners.

Turn to Your Local Medical Provider Today

If you're seeing any of the telltale signs of infection, quick diagnosis and treatment are essential for successful recovery. So, it's important to seek medical help from the professionals at PhysicianOne Urgent Care. We have locations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York and are open 365 days per year with extended hours. We also accept most major health insurance plans and offer affordable self-pay rates. You can choose to walk in or book a visit through our convenient online booking portal, but we also offer a 24/7 integrated telehealth service so you can receive treatment from the comfort of your own home. Don’t let a minor infection become a major problem. Visit the knowledgeable team at PhysicianOne Urgent Care today.

Son kissing mother
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the attention you gave me last week. My son was started on antibiotics and ear drops. Within 24 hours he began to feel better. The poor kid had been going to school in tears because he was afraid of missing any more days, but feeling (and looking) just awful! He's not been able to even think about lacrosse practice, but thanks to starting him on antibiotics, he was thrilled to return to practice today.
Somers, NY
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