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Mycoplasma Infections: Symptoms, Bacteria Species & Treatment

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What is Mycoplasma Infection?

Mycoplasmas are a genus of bacteria consisting of a number of different species. They are microscopic single-celled organisms in humans, animals, plants, insects and soil and researchers consider them the smallest type of cell. They do not have a cell wall and they can replicate on their own, but they cannot survive without a host. There are several different species within this class, but only certain species cause infections in humans (x).

Mycoplasma Bacteria that Cause Infections

Mycoplasma infection is a bacterial infection caused by one of several different species in the mycoplasma class. There are hundreds of different kinds of mycoplasma bacteria species. However, most of them are harmless and only a few can carry serious health risks. Some harmful mycoplasma bacteria are (x):

  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Ureaplasma
  • Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Mycoplasma hominis

Symptoms of Mycoplasma Infections

Different mycoplasma bacteria species may cause different symptoms and complications. Some species may cause symptoms focused on the respiratory system and others may cause symptoms similar to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Mycoplasma Pneumoniae 

Infection from mycoplasma pneumoniae causes mild symptoms that may last a few weeks. The symptoms may appear one to two weeks after the patient contracts the infection and they often resemble a cold or the flu, including a sore throat, fatigue, fever, headaches and a cough that progresses over time. However, it may cause different symptoms in children such as wheezing, vomiting or diarrhea (x).

According to research, this bacteria species causes pneumonia in about 10 percent of patients. In addition to fever and fatigue, pneumonia also causes difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain, chills and a wet cough (x).

Mycoplasma Genitalium

Unlike mycoplasma genitalium, this species is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse. It causes inflammation in the male and female urinary and genital tracts and increases the risk for other STIs. In female patients, it causes cervicitis and urethritis that cause vaginal pain, pain during sex, painful and frequent urination and abdominal pain. Patients may also experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or abnormal vaginal discharge (x). In men, urethritis can cause painful and frequent urination, penile discharge and pain during ejaculation and sexual intercourse (x).

Mycoplasma Hominis

Mycoplasma hominis bacteria causes symptoms that often resemble other STIs, including gonorrhea and chlamydia. This condition often causes painful urination in both men and women because it mostly affects the urinary tract. However, in some cases the disease may be asymptomatic and patients may not show any signs at all.

When they do appear, both male and female patients may notice abnormal discharge with an unusual smell and a burning sensation during urination. However, female patients may experience additional symptoms such as vaginal itching and pain during sexual intercourse. In rare cases, it may cause respiratory complications and joint pain, especially in patients with compromised immune systems (x).

Ureaplasma

Ureaplasma is a bacteria that naturally lives in the genitals and in the urinary tract (x). The bacterium rarely causes infections because the body’s immune system keeps the bacteria in check and they are a natural part of the body’s natural bacterial flora. However, patients with compromised immune systems may become infected if the bacteria’s population grows out of control and the body cannot control it (x).

If the patient’s bacterial flora is thrown out of balance, it causes symptoms including pain, itching and discharge in the genitals. It may also cause pelvic pain and stomach pain. In addition, researchers also associate ureaplasma infections with pregnancy complications like preterm labor and even miscarriage (x).

Symptoms of Mycoplasma

Treatment for Mycoplasma Infections

Antibiotics

The most common treatment for mycoplasma infections is antibiotics to destroy the bacteria (x). Common antibiotic classes that doctors may prescribe include moxifloxacin, doxycycline and azithromycin (x).

Healthy Lifestyle Practices

Mycoplasma pneumoniae causes a respiratory infection that spreads from patient to patient through coughing and sneezing. Adopting certain hygiene practices may minimize transmission such as washing hands and covering the mouth and nose before sneezing or coughing. There is no way to completely prevent the infection and it is possible to be infected more than once so previous infection does not erase the risk. Patients may be immune for a short period of time, but it is not lifelong. However, a second infection may be more mild (x).

On the other hand, the other mycoplasma species produce symptoms similar to sexually transmitted infections. Patients should take caution to practice safe and protected sex to reduce the risk of infections. Infections can increase the risk of developing more infections, such as HIV/AIDS (x).

Supplements for Mycoplasma Infections

In addition to medical treatment and healthy lifestyle practices, patients may also benefit from adding natural supplements to their daily health regimen. Supplements may be able to boost the immune system and prevent disease. However, they are not a cure for mycoplasma infections or any other health condition. Always consult a doctor before taking any supplements to confirm the dosage and avoid any possible side effects.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays an essential role in fortifying collagen, which strengthens the skin to fight infection (x). In addition, it is a strong antioxidant that helps protect the body from damage and disease. Vitamin C can also help strengthen the immune system to better fight off infections (x). This nutrient also plays an essential role in promoting wound healing. As a dietary supplement, the recommended dosage for vitamin C / ascorbic acid is 1,000 mg. Consult a doctor before taking this supplement to confirm the dosage and avoid potential side effects.

Broccoli Extract

Broccoli extract contains several different nutrients, including potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. According to research, the extract may also minimize patients’ risks for bacterial infections and it may also fight inflammation in the body (x, x). As a dietary supplement, the recommended dosage for broccoli extract powder is between 250 and 500 mg. Consult a doctor before taking this supplement to confirm the dosage. It may cause side effects or interact with other medications.

Garlic Extract

Garlic is known for its aroma and taste, making it a common cooking ingredient. According to studies, it may even have medicinal health benefits. Garlic may promote immune health and prevent viral, fungal and bacterial infections (x). Research states it may be effective in treating infectious diseases from salmonella and E. coli bacteria thanks to a compound called allicin (x). The recommended dosage for garlic extract powder is 650 mg twice a day with meals. All patients should seek medical advice before taking garlic supplements because it may cause adverse reactions or interfere with medications.

The Bottom Line

Mycoplasma infections develop from one of several species in the mycoplasma bacteria genus. There are several different types of mycoplasma bacteria and most do not cause any problems. However, some species can cause infections, such as mycoplasma hominis, mycoplasma genitalium, ureaplasma and mycoplasma pneumoniae. They may cause different symptoms and affect different parts of the body. For example, mycoplasma pneumoniae is a respiratory infection that may develop into pneumonia, while mycoplasma genitalium affects the genitals.

Most often, physicians treat the condition with antibiotics. Patients may also try taking natural supplements to fight bacteria and strengthen the immune system. However, do not take any supplements without approval from a doctor because they may cause side effects or interact with medications. Supplements are not a cure for mycoplasma infections or any other health condition. Instead, they aim to benefit overall health.

About the author

Carey Ojuju


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