A – Z of Illnesses & Conditions

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E. coli Infection

Escherichia coli or E. coli:  E. coli Infection for short is a very common bacterium. There are hundreds of different strains of  E. coli.  Some are harmless while others cause serious illness. Non-pathogenic strains of E. coli that is those that do not cause disease are normal inhabitants of the intestinal tract in humans and animals. But certain strains of  E. coli can cause severe diarrhea and infect the genital and urinary tracts.

The most notorious type of pathogenic E. coli is known as E. coli 0157:H7. The name refers to the chemical compounds found on the surface of the bacterium. This strain was identified in 1982 following an outbreak of diarrhea resulting from the eating of undercooked beef. The symptoms of E. coli 0157:H7 infection may include nausea, vomiting, a low fever, stomach cramp and bloody diarrhea. 

The infection is contagious and can be spread from person to person by fecal/feces contamination. E. coli 0157:H7 can cause additional complications in children and the elderly such as renal failure, anemia, spontaneous bleeding, organ failures, and dehydration especially in children, and mental changes in the elderly. Some of these patients develop permanent disabilities or die.

Most of the time you will recover from the most common types of E. coli infection within a couple of days. The goal of treatment is to make you feel better and avoid dehydration. Getting enough fluids and learning what to eat will help keep you or your child comfortable.

Call your doctor for an appointment if:
  •     You are unable to keep down fluids.
  •     Your diarrhea does not get better in 5 days (2 days for an infant or child), or it gets worse.
  •     Your child has been vomiting for more than 12 hours (in a newborn under 3 months, call as soon as vomiting or   diarrhea begins).
  •     You have abdominal pain that does not go away after a bowel movement.
  •     You have a fever above 101°F, or your child has a fever above 100.4°F with diarrhea.
  •     You have recently traveled to a foreign country and developed diarrhea.
  •     You see blood or pus in your stool.
  •     You develop symptoms of dehydration, such as not peeing (or dry napies/diapers in a baby), thirst, dizziness, or light-headedness.
  •     You develop new symptoms.

Always seek the advice of your doctor before taking herbal remedies

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