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Symptoms of E. coli infection and how to treat it

Escherichia coli, also called E. coli, is a bacteria that naturally inhabits people's gut without any symptoms being noticed, but when it is present in large quantities or when the person is infected by a different type of E. coli, it is possible to develop intestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain and nausea, for example.

Although intestinal infections with Escherichia coli are common, this bacterium can also causes urinary tract infections, which can be felt as pain or a burning sensation when urinating and a stronger smell of pee, and it is more frequent in women.

Symptoms of E. coli infection and how to treat it

Symptoms of Escherichia coli infection

The symptoms of E. coli infection appear about 3 to 4 days after contact with the bacteria through the consumption of contaminated food and water or due to the arrival of the bacterium in the urinary tract due to the proximity between the anus and the vagina, in the case of women. Therefore, the symptoms of infection vary according to the region affected:

Intestinal infection by E. coli

The symptoms of intestinal infection by E. coli are the same as a gastroenteritis caused by viruses, for example, the main symptoms are:

  • Constant diarrhea;
  • Stools with blood;
  • Abdominal pain or frequent cramps;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • General malaise and tiredness;
  • Fever below 38 ° C;
  • Loss of appetite.

If the symptoms do not go away after 5 to 7 days, it is important to go to the doctor for tests that can identify the bacteria. If E. coli infection is confirmed, the physician should indicate the use of antibiotics as well as rest, a light diet and intake of plenty of fluids.

Urinary tract infection by E. coli

Urinary tract infection caused by E. coli is more common in women because of the proximity of the anus to the vagina, making it easier to transmit the bacteria from one place to another. To prevent this, women should drink plenty of water, avoiding constant showers in the vaginal region and clean this area in the direction of the vagina to the anus.

To find out if there is a possibility of having an Escherichia coli urinary tract infection, select the symptoms in the following test:

  1. 1. Pain or burning sensation when urinating
    Yes
    No
  2. 2. Frequent and sudden urge to urinate in small quantities
    Yes
    No
  3. 3. Feeling of not being able to empty the bladder
    Yes
    No
  4. 4. Heavy sensation or discomfort in the bladder area
    Yes
    No
  5. 5. Cloudy urine or with the presence of blood
    Yes
    No
  6. 6. Persistent low fever (between 37.5º and 38º)
    Yes
    No
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The diagnosis of urinary tract infection by Escherichia coli is made by a physician according to the symptoms you present and the result of urinalysis and urine culture, which can  indicate if there is infection and what is the best antibiotic to treat it.

How is treatment done

Treatment of Escherichia coli infection is done according to the type of infection, the person's age and symptoms, and the physician usually recommends you to rest and use antibiotics, such as Levofloxacin, Gentamicin, Ampicillin and Cephalosporin, for example, during 8 to 10 days or as advised by your doctor.

When E. coli causes severe diarrhea with the presence of blood in the stools, it may also be indicated to use saline solution to prevent dehydration. In addition, according to the severity of the symptoms, the doctor may indicate remedies that relieve pain and discomfort, such as Paracetamol.

It is important that during the treatment of the infection by Escherichia coli the person has a light diet, giving preference to the consumption of fruits and vegetables, besides ingesting enough liquids to help in the elimination of the bacterium, in case of urinary infection, and to prevent the dehydration in the case of intestinal infection.


Bibliografia

  • SANTOS, Ana Carolina M. S et al. A virulência de Escherichia coli patogênica extra-intestinal (ExPEC) em relação à idade e ao sexo do hospedeiro. O Mundo da Saúde. Vol 33. 4 ed; 392-400, 2009
  • LOPES, Priscila M. et al. Escherichia coli como agente etiológico de infecções do trato urinário em pacientes do município de Viçosa-MG. Revista Brasileira de Farmácia. Vol 93. 1 ed; 43-47, 2012
  • BOSTON PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSION. E. coli (Escherichia coli). 2014. Link: <www.bphc.org>. Access in 26 Jun 2019
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