Many times what we eat does not go down well with our stomach. Our digestive tract shows its displeasure by making you suffer with watery diarrhea with mucus or even blood in stools. You may also suffer from fever, abdominal pain and cramps. If you notice these symptoms, then it indicates you are suffering from an intestinal infection.
What is an Intestinal Infection
An intestinal infection, also called gastrointestinal infection, is characterized by watery diarrhea. It occurs when one consumes contaminated foods and drinks. This infection spreads through many ways, and is said to affect people with weak immune systems. Thus, children and elderly often suffer from intestinal infections.
Intestinal infection involves inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that leads to acute diarrhea and vomiting. This infection is caused by various microbial agents like viruses and bacteria. Sometimes, intestinal parasites and their toxins also lead to inflammation and diarrhea. When one consumes food or water that is contaminated, with these diseases causing organisms or toxins, it leads to an infection.
Intestinal infection causes include eating contaminated, raw or uncooked meat, unpasteurized milk and milk products, eating contaminated shell-fish, drinking contaminated water or swimming in contaminated pools. Many times, these bacteria and viruses spread through the fecal oral route. This means when one does not wash hands after using the restroom, will spread the organisms by touching door knobs, tables, hand towels, etc. When another person touches these surfaces, harmful bacteria and viruses and touches their mouth or food, the infection will spread. Therefore, it is very important to wash one's hand after using the restroom, before cooking and eating food.
Viral agents that causes intestinal infections include norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus and astrovirus. There are many bacterial species that also lead gastroenteritis like Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus, Vibrio cholerae, Yersinia, etc. Consumption of uncooked meat, unwashed or improperly washed fruits and vegetables can spread these microorganisms into the body. Many times eating stale food or spoiled food also leads to an infection.
Apart from diarrhea and vomiting there are plenty of other symptoms. These include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Bloody stools
- Lack of sleep
- Reduced skin tugor
The conventional treatment includes avoiding solid foods and giving the patient a liquid diet. Loss of fluids is the main concern here, and therefore, replenishing lost fluids and electrolytes is the main aim of the treatment. In case of severe dehydration the patient is given intravenous fluids. The doctor may take stool samples and prescribe antibiotics and medications according to the stool culture. Antiemetics and antidiarrheal medications may be prescribed to reduce nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Speak to you doctor about the diet for gastroenteritis.
One should eat soft fruits and vegetables to avoid nutritional deficiency due to vomiting and diarrhea. If the diarrhea persists for more than 3 days, seek medical help. Poor sanitation, improper washing of hands, poor immune system and consumption of contaminated food and drinks is the main cause of intestinal infection. Make sure you wash your hands properly after using the bathroom, and before cooking and eating. Avoid eating unhygienic food, especially if you find the hygiene factor unsatisfactory in the eating joint.