Stomach infections can be caused by bacteria, virus or other pathogens. This article provides an in-depth information about the symptoms, causes and treatment of bacterial stomach infection.
Infection of the stomach or intestine is called gastroenteritis. Although gastrointestinal infection is most often caused by viruses, such infections can also be caused due to bacteria. Such infections are caused when bacteria infects the lining of the stomach or the intestine.
Sometimes, some bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus produces toxins, which causes symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Most stomach infections are caused due to contaminated water, food, or food which has not been cooked well.
Gastroenteritis is one of the most common cause of stomach infection. When gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria, such as Campylobacter jejuni, E. Coli, Salmonella etc. it is known as bacterial gastroenteritis. Helicobacter pylori, a gram-negative bacterium also causes infection in the stomach. Helicobacter pylori infection can lead to peptic ulcers, gastritis and even stomach cancer.
Gastroenteritis causes inflammation of the stomach as well as the intestine. Bacterial gastroenteritis occurs when contaminated food (i.e. food contaminated with bacteria) is consumed. When cooked food, particularly meat and poultry, left at room temperature for more than two hours, is consumed, it can lead to this condition. Improper handling of food in restaurants, cafeterias or even at home can also lead to contamination of food.
There are many symptoms of this infection, the most common and prominent one being diarrhea. Other symptoms are:
- Abdominal cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Blood or mucus in stools
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
It is important to note that diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration. These symptoms usually last for three to five days and resolves on its own. However, if the condition persists, then it is best to consult a doctor.
Most of the symptoms of stomach infection usually resolve themselves on their own, within a few days. However, sometimes the symptoms persists for more than a few days. The biggest concern with stomach infections is that, due to diarrhea and vomiting, there can be fluid loss which will in turn lead to dehydration. Treatment for bacterial stomach infections include.
- Drinking plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated.
- Doctors usually prescribe oral rehydration solution to replenish lost fluids.
- For severe dehydration due to gastroenteritis, intravenous fluid replacement is required.
- For severe stomach infections, caused by bacteria, doctors might prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics that are usually prescribed include, Ciprofloxacin, Ceftriaxone and Cefixime.
- Medications for treating nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also prescribed to keep the symptoms under control.
Prevention and Self-care Measures
In addition to the treatment provided by a doctor, some self-care measures will be helpful in recovering from stomach infections. These are:
- Self-care as regards to dehydration includes consuming electrolyte solution to replace fluids lost by diarrhea.
- It is best to avoid having solid food for sometime and have a liquid diet.
- Avoid having food that is spicy, rich in saturated fats and sugar, as this can aggravate diarrhea. Try to have plain or bland food for a while.
- Avoid having milk and any other dairy products.
- It is best to avoid consuming coffee, tea and aerated drinks as it might aggravate the condition.
There are certain things that you should keep in mind to prevent bacterial stomach infection.
- Always make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly after using the washroom.
- Avoid having raw food like precut fruits and vegetables and sprouts which has been kept outside in room temperature for a while.
- Avoid having undercooked meat, seafood and poultry. Meat needs to be cooked well so that there is no danger of infection after consuming it.
- If you cook at home, keep separate cutting boards for chopping vegetables and meat. This way, you can prevent any cross-contamination.
- Always wash raw meat, poultry or fish products thoroughly before cooking.
Most bacterial stomach infection usually resolves on its own. However, to avoid any complications, it is best to consult a doctor who will guide you with necessary medications and treatment. Stomach infections can be avoided to a great extend if one takes proper precautions like drinking clean water and maintaining hygiene.
This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.