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Clearance of Klebsiella bacteria and its symptoms

Clearance of Klebsiella bacteria and its symptoms

Clearance of Klebsiella bacteria and its symptoms


Klebsiella pneumoniae (K. pneumoniae) are bacteria that normally live in your intestines and faeces. They are harmless when they’re in your intestines but if they spread to another part of your body, they can cause severe infections. 

If your immune system is weakened or you have been using antibiotics for a long while, you are more likely to get Klebsiella overgrowth. It is commonly treated with antibiotics, but some strains have developed drug resistance and also kill off many off the beneficial bacteria’s further compounding gut dysbiosis. These infections are very difficult to treat with normal antibiotics.

Natural treatment of Klebsiella pneumoniae can support and repair your gut to overcome the bacteria and improve symptoms without devastating your microbiome.

What is Klebsiella pneumoniae?

Klebsiella pneumoniae, or Klebsiella spp, is a type of gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria that can cause different types of infections ranging from pneumonia (lung), blood infections (septicaemia), wound or surgical infections, urinary tract infections, small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO), ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and meningitis (brain).

It belongs to the Enterobacteriaceae family of bacteria, the same family as Salmonella and E. coli. Klebsiella oxytoca (KO) is one of several Klebsiella bacteria.

Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria can act as a human opportunistic pathogenic infection when it proliferates in increased amounts, where it may cause a host of health complaints and symptoms. When the immune system is healthy, it maintains Klebsiella pneumoniae in healthy numbers which can even offer benefit.

Klebsiella pneumoniae colonises much of the human body, from our nasal passages and mouth to our digestive tracts, and it is also found in soil and some plants. Different strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae, when found in normal healthy amounts, helps us to digest carbohydrates such as lactose, resistant starches, inulin, fructose and mannose. 

Klebsiella pneumoniae intestinal infections become problematic when the bacteria become opportunistic and increase in numbers to our detriment. This generally occurs in people with compromised immune systems and/or dysbiotic intestinal tracts. 

What causes Klebsiella pneumoniae?

A Klebsiella infection is caused by the bacteria K. pneumoniae. It happens when K. pneumoniae directly enter the body. This usually occurs due to person-to-person contact. 

Infections can be transmitted in healthcare settings by person-to-person contact via contaminated hands, ventilators, intravenous catheters, or wounds where it can cause respiratory and/or blood infections. The bacteria are not airborne, so you can’t contract an infection by breathing the same air as an infected person.

Klebsiella pneumoniae and antibiotic resistance

Increasingly, some strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae have developed resistance to certain classes of antibiotics such as carbapenems, by acquiring a gene mutation that helps them to produce an enzyme that creates a resistance to the strongest of antibiotics.

The microbes that are resistant to antibiotics are called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). Carbapenem-resistant KP is the most common type of CRE and is responsible for causing the vast majority of gram-negative bacterial infections in community and healthcare settings in Australia.

Some are labelling Klebsiella as the new superbug. This can be attributed to the combination of antibiotic resistant strains, environments with a high number of immunocompromised patients, in particularly hospitals and nursing homes, and people with compromised gut flora due to gut dysbiosis. This multifactorial causation is opening up the flood gates to increases in Klebsiella type infections.

Klebsiella pneumoniae symptoms

Klebsiella bacteria can infect your lungs, bladder, brain, liver, eyes, blood and any wounds you may have.

Because K. pneumoniae can infect different parts of the body, it can cause different types of infections with different symptoms, including:


When K. pneumoniae enters your respiratory tract, it can cause bacterial pneumonia or infection of the lungs. Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, chills, coughing, yellow or bloody mucus, shortness of breath and chest pain.

Urinary tract infection

If K. pneumoniae gets in your urinary tract, it can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI). Your urinary tract includes your urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys. 

Typically, K. pneumoniae cause UTIs in older women. Symptoms may include a frequent urge to urinate, pain and burning when urinating, bloody or cloudy urine, strong-smelling urine, passing small amounts of urine, pain in the back or pelvic area and discomfort in the lower abdomen. If you have a UTI in your kidneys, you might have fever, chills, vomiting, nausea and pain in the upper back and side.

Skin or soft tissue infection

If K. pneumoniae enters through a break in your skin, it can infect your skin or soft tissue. K. pneumoniae wound infections include cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis and myositis. You may experience fever, redness, swelling, pain, flu-like symptoms and fatigue. 


In rare cases, K. pneumoniae can cause bacterial meningitis, or inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It happens when bacteria infect the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.

Most cases of K. pneumoniae meningitis happen in hospital settings. It can cause a sudden onset of high fever, headache and stiff neck. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and confusion.


If K. pneumoniae is in the blood, it can spread to the eye and cause endophthalmitis, an infection that causes inflammation in the white of your eye. Symptoms may include eye pain, redness, white or yellow discharge, white cloudiness on the cornea, sensitivity to lights and blurred vision. 

Pyogenic liver abscess 

Often, K. pneumoniae infects the liver, commonly affecting people with diabetes or who have been taking antibiotics for a long time. Common symptoms include fever, pain in the right upper abdomen, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and Crohn’s disease (CD)
Many studies have confirmed K. pneumoniae is a likely trigger for AS, CD and ulcerative colitis. Genetically susceptible people, such as those who have the HLA-B27 allelotypes and consume a high starch diet, can trigger a growth in KP in the bowel, the starch becoming a main food supply for K. pneumoniae. 

K. pneumoniae bacteria have been isolated by different independent groups more significantly from the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of active AS and CD patients when compared to controls. Flare-ups of symptoms normally coincide with an increase in its proliferation.

Blood infection

If K. pneumoniae enters your blood, it can cause bacteremia, or the presence of bacteria in blood. In primary bacteremia, K. pneumoniae directly infects your bloodstream. In secondary bacteremia, K. pneumoniae spreads to your blood from an infection somewhere else in your body. One study estimates about 50 percent of Klebsiella blood infections originate from Klebsiella infection in the lungs. 

Of grave concern to the medical community is the increase in antibiotic resistance that makes treatment of lung and bladder K. pneumoniae infections more difficult and extends the length of time that patients carry K. pneumoniae at these sites, allowing more opportunities for K. pneumoniae to spread to the bloodstream and brain.

Symptoms usually develop suddenly. This might include fever, chills and shaking. Bacteremia needs to be treated immediately. If left untreated, bacteremia can become life threatening and turn into sepsis.

Bacteremia is a medical emergency – go to the nearest emergency department or call 000 if you suspect you might have it. 

Risk factors of Klebsiella pneumoniae

Risk factors of infection include:

  • increasing age
  • taking antibiotics for a long time
  • taking corticosteroids
  • being hospitalized
  • using a ventilator 
  • using an intravenous or ureter catheter 
  • surgery
  • wounds
  • diabetes
  • alcoholism
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
  • chronic liver disease
  • lung disease
  • kidney failure
  • dialysis
  • solid-organ transplantation
  • cancer
  • chemotherapy

Many of these conditions can suppress your immune system, especially when left untreated.

Treating Klebsiella pneumoniae infection naturally

K. pneumoniae infections are often allopathically treated with antibiotics. But as some strains are highly resistant to antibiotics, it can be difficult to treat. Herbal medicine and the use of a range of antimicrobial herbs are effective at treating Klebsiella and don’t wreak havoc in the rest of the body.  Most prescribed chemical antibiotics can be very detrimental to the body – specifically to gut health – which in turn can make our bodies more susceptible to illness. It becomes a downward cycle for your immune system and physiology.  

Repairing the microbiome with natural remedies is key in the treatment of Klebsiella pneumonia. At Advanced Functional Medicine, we commonly uncover klebsiella overgrowth in our patients and successful treat it with a mixture of antimicrobial herbs while supporting the microbiome with specific probiotics and health yeasts.

There are numerous supporting studies worldwide showing the positive effects in herbal medicines accompanied by increased laboratory investigation about their pharmacological properties of the bioactive constituents and their ability to treat various diseases, including Klebsiella.

Generally, it is quite easy to find Klebsiella infections by running one of a number of different stool tests. At Advanced Functional Medicine, we commonly run the Complete Microbiome Mapping (GI Map) stool test, one of the most Advanced Stool tests in Australia and the world.

Treatments that are useful in the treatment of Klebsiella infections 

Herbal antimicrobials – immune enhancing and antimicrobial herbal medicines will help to support immune function and act as natural antibacterial agents that can eradicate Klebsiella and other pathogens.  Some of the herbal medicines include Andrographis paniculata (andrographis), Hydrastis canadensis (golden seal) and Thymus vulgarise (thyme). Andrographis, thyme and golden seal are indicated for bacterial intestinal infections, while andrographis has demonstrated its ability to also destroy biofilms that bacteria build around themselves to protect themselves from antibacterial agents.  

At Advanced Functional Medicine we have qualified herbalists and functional medicine practitioners that use targeted herbal treatments tailored to specific pathogens that may be found in patients laboratory testing.

Saccharromyces boulardii – discourages the growth of unfriendly microorganisms such as Klebsiella pneumonia. It also reduces digestive inflammatory mediators, increases the production of secretory IgA (slgA), short-chain fatty acids and the activity of the brush border disaccharide digestive enzymes. Given the opportunistic attribute of Klebsiella pneumonia, Saccharromyces boulardii can help to balance Klebsiella pneumonia overgrowth by enhancing growth of beneficial bacteria.

Probiotics – broad spectrum and targeted spore forming probiotics assist in the maintenance of healthy intestinal flora and healthy digestive function. Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum and Bifidobacterium breve may provide temporary symptomatic relief of IBS. L. acidophilus, B. breve and Streptococcus thermophilus may provide temporary relief of diarrhoea. L. fermentum and L. rhamnosus have been clinically demonstrated to assist in the maintenance of healthy urogenital flora thus reducing the incidence of urinary tract infections occurring as a result of Klebsiella infection. Zinc, vitamins A and C have demonstrated roles in the maintenance of a healthy immune system to enhance its ability to fight infection.

Preventing an infection

Since K. pneumoniae spreads through person-to-person contact, the best way to prevent infection is to frequently wash your hands.

Good hand hygiene will make sure the germs don’t spread. You should wash your hands:

  • before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • before and after preparing or eating food
  • before and after changing wound dressings
  • after using the bathroom
  • after coughing or sneezing

If you’re in the hospital, the staff should also wear gloves and gowns when touching other people with Klebsiella infection. They should also wash their hands after touching hospital surfaces.

How we can help you

At Advanced Functional Medicine we advanced functional medicine testing in Australia.  On all our patients, we conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis and interpret hundreds of biochemical and gut markers.  

After we have identified the list of pathogens that may be active in a patient.  Our approach is to eradicate the unwanted bacteria’s, including klebsiella and parasites and other dysbiotic bacteria’s.  Once this has been proven to be eradicated, we move to rebuilding the integrity and diversity of the microbiome, providing a solid and long lasting health foundation that is vital to longevity and quality of life

We have qualified herbalists, functional medicine practitioners and nutritionists that develop the best protocols available.

Call us now to find out more about how we can support you to improve your gut health, strengthen your immune system and feel better, naturally.

The above information is intended to be general, educational advice only, on topics which are of interest to us. It is not intended to represent specific or individual health or medical advice and is not specific to your situation. The below information is educative and is not intended to advertise any service.

Before making any decisions in relation to your health, you should always discuss your individual situation with your own health practitioners to ensure that any advice you have read is right for you.

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper - ND is the founder of Advanced Functional Medicine Australia. He is a Naturopathic Doctor with extensive functional medicine training from leading practitioners in the USA and worldwide.

He is leading the way with advancements of functional medicine, clinically implementing worldwide best practices in Functional Medicine throughout Australia.

Jarrod consults in person from Perth, Western Australia and also online via Telehealth throughout Australia and worldwide.

If you are looking for personalised treatment, we highly recommend contacting Jarrod Cooper’s Advanced Functional Medicine clinic in Australia.

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