What is an E. coli intestinal infection?

11 May 2017
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11 May 2017, Comments: 0

An E. coli intestinal infection can trigger undesirable symptoms. The usual symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. In severe cases, it can lead to blood-streaked diarrhea, kidney failure and dehydration.

Most cases of intestinal infections are due to contaminated water or food. Proper handling or preparation of food and sanitation can drastically reduce the risk for developing an intestinal infection.

The condition can be managed at home and the symptoms typically settle within a few days up to a week.

Indications of an E. coli intestinal infection

The indications of an intestinal infection generally arise between 1-5 days after being infected by E. coli. The common symptoms include:

  • Gas


    The indications of an intestinal infection generally arise between 1-5 days after being infected by E. coli.

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abrupt, severe watery diarrhea that might include blood
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite loss
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

The symptoms can last for a few days up to a week or more. If the infection is severe, it might include pale skin, bloody urine, bruising, diminished urine output and dehydration.


In most instances, treatment at home is enough to deal with an E. coli intestinal infection. Provide the individual with fluids to drink, adequate rest and monitor for any severe symptoms that requires a call to the doctor.

If the individual has fever or blood-streaked diarrhea, consult the doctor first before giving any over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications.

In case dehydration is an issue of concern, the doctor might require hospitalization so that intravenous fluids can be started.

Most show improvement within 5-7 days after the start of the infection and fully recover.

Preventive measures

It is important to observe safe food practices to reduce the risk for developing an intestinal infection. These measures include:

  • Thoroughly washing vegetables and fruits
  • Avoid defrosting meat on the counter
  • Avoiding cross-contamination by utilizing clean pans, utensils and serving platters
  • Keep raw meats away from other foods and clean items
  • Meat must be defrosted in a refrigerator or microwave
  • Avoid preparing food if the individual had diarrhea
  • Any leftovers must be refrigerated right away
  • Only drink pasteurized milk products

Make sure that meat is properly cooked. The appropriate temperatures must be used to ensure that all bacteria are eliminated.

An infection can be prevented by regularly washing hands. Always wash hands before handling, serving or eating food especially after touching animals, using the bathroom or working in animal environments.

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