The colon or the large intestine is the last part of the digestive tract. The main function of the colon is to extract moisture and salts from the food waste, before they get eliminated from the body. Though the colon is not responsible for absorption of nutrients, it has a very important role in absorbing water, potassium, and fat-soluble vitamins. The human colon consists of four parts; ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid colon.
What Causes Colon Infection?
Colon infection is mainly caused by bacteria such as Campylobacter, Shigella, E. Coli, Yersinia, and Salmonella. Entamoeba histolytica is a parasite that can cause infection of the large intestine. Certain types of viruses can also cause such infections. Clostridium difficile or C-diff is a spore forming bacterium that is considered as one of the most common causes of colon infection. This bacteria may co-exist with other beneficial bacteria in the colon, and grow unchecked when other bacteria get destroyed due to antibiotic use. This infection is also called pseudomembranous colitis, which is also contagious. So, the causal agents may gain entry into the body through contaminated food or water. In some cases, contact with affected people or contaminated surfaces is enough to develop the condition.
It has been observed that most of the affected people develop more or less similar symptoms, even if the causal agents differ. Given below is a list of the most common symptoms of an infected colon.
Watery Diarrhea: The affected person may need to visit the restroom very frequently. In severe cases, bloody diarrhea may also develop. Blood or mucus may also appear in the stool, and the person may develop anal spasms, while defecating.
Abdominal Pain: Colon infection may cause severe intermittent pain in the lower abdominal region. The pain is often described as spasms that may ease with bowel movements.
Mild Fever: In some cases, the affected person may develop a mild fever. This is a symptom that is commonly associated with infection caused by C-diff, Campylobacter, Shigella, Salmonella, etc. The symptom may worsen as the infection gets severe.
Dehydration: Due to the constant loss of fluids caused by frequent bowel movements, most of the affected people develop dehydration. The condition may cause dry mouth, excessive thirst, and muscular weakness.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
The course of treatment is decided according to the condition of the patient and the causal agent. In case of infection caused by C-diff bacteria, antibiotics are not used. However, certain types of antibiotics can be used for eliminating these bacteria, if such treatment is unavoidable. Replacement of intestinal flora is also recommended. Usually, antibiotics are used for treating colon infection caused by other types of bacteria. The affected person has to drink lots of water, to compensate the fluid loss caused by diarrhea. Intravenous fluids and electrolytes are administered in case of severe dehydration. So, seek medical attention as soon as you notice the symptoms, so as to avoid complications. Colon infection can be prevented to a large extent by maintaining good hygiene. Avoid having partially-cooked or undercooked meat, and contaminated water.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.