Intestinal infection by Escherichia coli bacterium is a leading cause of food poisoning, which results in bloody diarrhea, anemia and at times, renal failure. E. coli infection treatment is done with administration of antibacterial medications and following self care tips at home.
The human digestive tract is inhabited by several types of microflora, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) is one of them. There are many strains of this bacterium, of which some are harmless and some are pathogenic to humans. The virulent types are collectively known as enterohemorrhagic E. coli. They cause serious food poisoning, and are the causal factors for traveler’s diarrhea and urinary tract infections. Early E. coli infection treatment is imperative to avoid anemia, kidney problems and other probable medical complications.
Causes and Symptoms
Intestinal disease caused due to infection by this pathogenic bacterium is referred to as E. coli enteritis. It occurs through oral route, or when a person comes in direct contact with feces containing the bacterium. Ways of contacting E. coli infection are consuming raw foods (milk, fruits, veggies), contaminated foods, improperly cooked meat and drinking contaminated water. Incubation period of this intestinal infection is 2-4 days, and in some instances, people exhibit infection signs after 7 days.
One of the typical E. coli infection symptoms is sudden diarrhea. Very often, diarrhea progresses to bloody diarrhea, and is accompanied with a string of symptoms – running high temperature, gassiness, change in appetite, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Also, the strain E. coli O104:H7 is responsible for causing Escherichia coli outbreak. The severely afflicted patients are diagnosed with a type of kidney failure condition, called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Over here, kidney failure is associated with significant drop in the red blood cell and platelet count.
In healthy adults, food poisoning symptoms caused by E. coli improve slowly, and full recovery is achieved within one week or so. Nevertheless, infections in young children, elderly people and sick patients should not be taken lightly. If notable symptoms of food poisoning appear, it indicates that the bacterium is passed to the intestinal tract and treatment is necessary. So, how to treat E. coli infection? Before proceeding with correct infection treatment, the doctor will collect fecal sample (within 2 days of passing bloody stool) and perform stool culture.
After confirmation, the doctor will recommend antibiotics for E. coli infection treatment. For very weak patients, intravenous fluids will be given to regain strength. Along with the medications, one should follow personal care instructions as suggested by the physician. Home treatment for E. coli infection involves taking adequate rest, drinking lots of healthy fluids to avoid dehydration and most importantly, following ways to prevent transmission of bacteria to others. Don’t self administer antibiotics or any other diarrhea related medications.
Health experts do not recommend taking anti-diarrheal medication for addressing E. coli infection symptoms. This is because, the toxins produced by bacteria get accumulated in digestive system, and administering any medicine of the sort will impair the normal process of expelling these unwanted toxins. Although it is unlikely to transmit E. coli from an infected person to another, it may occur due to improper hand washing. To cut it short, an infected person should wash hands thoroughly after passing bowel movement, and before touching eatables or contacting other people.
Adopting preventive measures stringently is the key to avoid bacterial food poisoning. These include proper hand washing, avoiding raw milk, cooking meat to the recommended temperature and following hygiene during food serving. Also, toilets, bathrooms and sinks should be sanitized with antibacterial solutions. Children who are infected with E. coli should stay at home to contain this transmissible disease, until the doctor gives approval. Further stool culture will be conducted, and children can continue going to school after two test results come negative.
This sums up E. coli facts about causing food poisoning, its symptoms and treatment tips. As for dealing with E. coli O104:H7 infection, there is no reliable approach for curing it. E. coli infection treatment is thus focused on relieving the discomfort symptoms and minimizing the risks for complications. Public awareness about this bacterial infection is important to minimize the possibility of causing an outbreak.