What is e. coli infection?


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Know the basics

What is e. coli infection?

Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria normally live in the intestines of people and animals. Although most types of E. coli only cause brief diarrhea, a few particularly type, such as E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe intestinal infection that results in diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.

E. coli infection can be from contaminated water or food especially raw vegetables and undercooked ground beef. Healthy adults usually recover from infection with E. coli O157:H7 within a week, but young children and older adults, people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women have a greater risk of developing a life-threatening form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Most cases of intestinal E. coli infection can be treated at home.

How common is e. coli infection?

This E. coli infection is extremely common. It commonly affects more females than males. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of e. coli infection?

The common symptoms of E. coli infection are:

  • Diarrhea, sudden, severe watery diarrhea that may change to bloody stools;
  • Abdominal cramping, pain or tenderness;
  • Nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite;
  • Fatigue;

The severe symptoms of E. coli infection may include:

  • Bloody urine;
  • Decreased urine output;
  • Pale skin;
  • Bruising;

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Diarrhea isn’t getting better after four days, or two days for an infant or child;
  • Fever associated with diarrhea;
  • Abdominal pain doesn’t reduce after a bowel movement;
  • Presence of pus or blood in your stool;
  • Vomiting for more than 12 hours;
  • Symptoms of intestinal infection and recently having a travel to a foreign country;
  • Symptoms of dehydration, such as a lack of urine, extreme thirst, or dizziness.

Know the causes

What causes e. coli infection?

There are many potential causes of E. coli infection, including:

  • Contaminated food: is the most common cause. Food is contaminated because of the improper preparation, for example:
    • Not wash hands, or not completely before preparing or eating food.
    • Using unclean utensils, cutting boards, or serving dishes.
    • Consuming contaminated food because of the unsuitable preservation condition (temperature and moisture).
    • Consuming unripe foods.
    • Consuming raw seafood products or other products that hasn’t been properly washed.
    • Drinking unpasteurized milk.
    • Slaughtering processing: poultry and meat products contaminate bacteria from the animals’ intestines.
  • Contaminated water: such as drinking contaminated water or swimming in a contaminated lake or pool.
  • Person to person: The bacteria are easily spread when an infected person who do not wash hand properly touches someone or something else, like food.
  • Animals: People who work with animals, especially cows, goats, and sheep can be infected from the bacteria living in animals.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for e. coli infection?

There are many risk factors for E. coli infection, such as:

  • Young children and older adults have higher risks of E. coli than other ages.
  • Weakened immune systems for example people with AIDS or using drugs to treat cancer or prevent the rejection of organ transplants.
  • Eating certain types of food, for example undercooked hamburger; unpasteurized milk, apple juice or cider; and soft cheeses made from raw milk.
  • Time of year from June through September is the time having many the E. coli infection cases.
  • Decreased stomach acid levels when taking medications to reduce levels of stomach acid, such as esomeprazole (Nexium), pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec).

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is e. coli infection diagnosed?

coli infection can be diagnosed through a laboratory to test for the presence of E. coli bacteria.

How is e. coli infection treated?

Treatments for E. coli infection in almost cases include:

  • Get plenty of rest;
  • Drink plenty of water to help prevent dehydration and fatigue. In some case, hospitalization is requires to inject intravenously fluids;
  • Taking antidiarrheal medications: check with doctor before using drug to prevent diarrhea .

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage e. coli infection?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with E. coli infection:

  • Washing fruits and vegetables and other foods thoroughly, if capable;
  • Washing hand properly before eating, after toileting, after exposing to animals.
  • Using clean utensils, pans, and serving platters;
  • Keeping raw meats away from other clean items or other clean food won’t be cook;
  • Always defrosting meat in the refrigerator or microwave but not on the counter;
  • Refrigerating leftovers immediately;
  • Drinking only pasteurized milk product;
  • Drink boiled water;
  • Not preparing food if you have diarrhea.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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