bacteriophobia meaning, symptoms & treatment

In the seventeenth century, a Dutch microbiologist looked through his microscope and noted the presence of something he deemed “animalcules” – he had discovered bacteria. Of course, these unicellular microorganisms have always been a part of our world. Bacteria can be good, neutral…or very bad. When it is dangerous, bacteria is referred to as a pathogen, and it can be scary indeed. For this reason, some people develop a potent fear of bacteria. This phobia is known by the Latin term, Bacteriophobia.

Bacteriophobia is an overwhelmingly persistent fear of germs and microbes. The bacteriophobic individual irrationally thinks that lethal germs and bacteria are everywhere. The person coping with this phobia can be so severely impacted as to believe that bacteria is growing and will eventually cause their death.

Sometimes referred to as Bacillophobia or Microphobia, Bacteriophobia derives from the Greek word "bakterion", meaning rod or small staff and "phobos" meaning fear.

Cause of bacteriophobia
As with any phobia, the bacteriophobic individual has suffered a real-life trauma. That traumatic experience is then associated with germs and/or microbes.

Maybe as a child, the person coping with Bacteriophobia learned to be intensely fearful of germs by watching overly cautious adults.

Perhaps this individual has personally experienced a severe bacterial infection at some time in their life. Maybe the bacteriophobic person witnessed someone else suffering a fatal illness that resulted from a bacterial infection.

The symptoms of Bacteriophobia vary from person to person. Some individuals, when confronted with their fear of germs and bacteria, may feel slightly uncomfortable, become nauseated or begin to perspire. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other people are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they experience crippling anxiety and/or panic attacks.

Other symptoms of Bacteriophobia may include:
A Dry Mouth
Heightened Senses
Feeling Dizzy
Muscle Tension
Increased Heartbeat
Feeling Out of Control
Feeling Trapped and Unable to Escape
Overwhelming Feeling of Anticipated Disaster

The vast majority of cases of Bacteriophobia are self-diagnosed. The person realizes that their fear of germs, microbes and bacteria is irrational and is severely compromising their ability to function on a daily basis.

The bacteriophobic person may then schedule an appointment with their primary physician to discuss their phobia. Rarely will the doctor diagnosis Bacteriophobia based on that initial discussion. More routinely, after ruling out any physical cause for the phobia, the doctor will refer the person to a mental health professional for further assessment and evaluation.

When the fear of germs, microbes and bacteria becomes so overwhelming as to disrupt an individual's daily functioning, there are a number of ways to treat Bacteriophobia.

These can include:
Referral from the primary physician to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.

Traditional "talk" therapy that will teach the person to recognize and control their phobia.

Self-help techniques.

Exposure Therapy.


Support groups with other people coping with this phobia.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Desensitization Therapy.

Relaxation techniques.

In severe cases of Bacteriophobia, anti-anxiety medication can be prescribed.

Bacteriophobia is an intense, irrational fear of germs, microbes and bacteria. Sometimes that fear can become so intense as to completely stop a person's ability to function on a daily basis. Unchecked, Bacteriophobia can become a debilitating condition that interferes with a person's social life, their personal life and job responsibilities. Untreated, Bacteriophobia touches every single aspect of an individual's life.

Author Brief – Dr. Ashish arora is a consultant homoeopathic physician who is known amongst his patients for his politeness and his counseling skills. Other than the medical profession Dr. Ashish is very passionate for pencil sketching and photography.
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