Many people may have experienced mild to severe stomach pain along with vomiting and diarrhea. This usually indicates bacterial intestinal infection. This condition occurs when pathogenic bacteria invade our intestine, multiply, and cause inflammation.
In the following sections of this HealthHearty article, we will understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options of the same.
A bacterial intestinal infection is caused by invading pathogenic bacteria that infects the intestines. This leads to inflammation and a development of a medical condition called gastroenteritis. There are different bacterial species that lead to an infection. These bacteria include: Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus, Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, Yersinia, Vibrio cholerae, etc. These bacteria gain entry into the body by ingestion of unhygienic food and contaminated drinks. Many times, improperly stored or spoiled foods contain these harmful bacteria. Consumption of half cooked or improperly cooked foods lead to intestinal bacterial infection as well. Drinking contaminated water and unpasteurized milk also leads to gastroenteritis.
The following are certain types of bacteria that can cause an intestinal infection.
Clostridium botulinum causes botulism after one consumes contaminated water and ingests food containing botulism toxins. It is a rare infection, but a very serious one. It causes paralysis of the facial muscles and the limbs. In severe infections, it can lead to paralysis of the breathing muscles leading to respiratory failure.
Salmonella infection causes Salmonellosis that leads to diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. This bacteria is transmitted by incorrectly cooked or infected poultry, pork, and meat. Consumption of infected eggs and egg products, milk, tainted fruits, and vegetables also transfer the bacteria into the body. There are many reptiles, pet rodents, etc. that carry the bacteria on their skin and handling them may transfer the bacteria into the human body. In some cases, a person may have to be hospitalized as severe diarrhea may lead to dehydration.
Vibrio cholerae causes cholera that is an infection of the small intestine. This infection is transmitted after drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. Fecal contamination of food and water due to poor sanitation is the main cause of cholera. This infection leads to watery diarrhea and vomiting. If untreated, it could lead to dehydration, poor skin turgor, low blood pressure, and sunken eyes.
Escherichia coli Intestinal Infection
Escherichia coli is the causative agent of this intestinal infection. Drinking and eating contaminated water and food is the main cause of this infection. One of the commonly known gastroenteritis caused by E. coli is traveler's diarrhea.
Shigella dysenteriae is the bacteria responsible for dysentery. This bacterium releases a potent and deadly toxin called the Shiga toxin that leads to dysentery. The bacteria is spread through contaminated food, water, unwashed hands during food preparation, and contaminated hands reaching the mouth. The symptoms include severe diarrhea that contains mucus and blood in the feces. Abdominal pain and fever also accompany the condition.
Campylobacter jejuni leads to enteritis, an intestinal infection. This bacteria is present in the digestive tract of birds, and therefore, spreads through poultry. Contaminated meat and poultry that is incorrectly prepared lead to the transfer of this bacteria into the human gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms of this infection include abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, and malaise. The diarrhea is characterized by loose stools that may contain blood.
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal flatulence
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Bloody stools
- Fainting spells and weakness
- Poor feeding in infants
- Signs of dehydration
TreatmentThe treatment includes avoiding eating any solid food for a couple of days. The patient should be kept on a liquid diet and dairy products should not be given to him/her. The doctor may suggest antiemetics that help control vomiting. Antibiotics may be suggested to treat the bacterial infection as well. Yogurt should be consumed as it contains lactobacillus that helps control the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Many common bacterial intestinal infections tend to resolve in a couple of days. However, in case of severe diarrhea and vomiting, the person may be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.
One should avoid eating outside food and wash their hands thoroughly before eating or cooking. Proper hygiene and sanitation will prevent the spread of bacterial gastroenteritis.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.