What are bacterial digestive infections?

Bacterial digestive infections are diseases that affect the digestive organs as a result of ingesting of infectious bacterial organisms. Infectious bacteria scientifically known as Escherichia coli (E coli), Salmonella, and Shigella are among the most common causes of bacterial digestive infections. Each of these infections causes nausea with or without vomiting, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. They may also cause bloody diarrhea, known as dysentery.

Bacterial digestive infections are common foodborne illnesses in the United States and spread among humans through contaminated food and water. Most commonly, people contract infected bacteria from drinking untreated, contaminated water or from eating raw, contaminated produce or undercooked meat, poultry or eggs. Once a person is infected, the bacteria live in the intestines and are passed in the stool of the infected person. Animals and insects can also be infected and spread the disease to humans.

The signs and symptoms of bacterial digestive infections can last five to seven days or longer. The disease course varies among individuals. Some people infected with bacterial digestive infections have mild symptoms, while others may have severe diarrhea with or without vomiting that can pose a risk of dehydration. Fortunately, bacterial infection can be treated successfully with antibiotics and fluid and nutritional support.

Left untreated, bacterial digestive infections may lead to severe dehydration. Severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can result in shock or coma and may be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of severe dehydration such as confusion, lethargy, loss of consciousness, cold skin, or reduced urine production. Seek prompt medical care if you develop diarrhea and vomiting and believe you may have been exposed to contaminated food or water.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of bacterial digestive infections?

Bacterial digestive infections cause irritation and inflammation of the intestines that may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of bacterial digestive infections

The most common symptoms of bacterial digestive infections are related to disturbances of the digestive system and include:

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CAUSES

What causes bacterial digestive infections?

Bacterial digestive infections are most commonly caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E coli), Salmonella, and Shigella. Campylobacter is another type of bacteria that can cause infection of the gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria are present in the stool (feces) of infected people and animals. When water sources are contaminated with feces containing the pathogen, drinking from these wate... Read more about bacterial digestive infectionscauses

TREATMENTS

How are bacterial digestive infections treated?

Treatment for bacterial digestive infections begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine if you have a bacterial digestive infection, your health care provider may ask you to provide stool samples for laboratory tests.

Antibiotic therapy is the mainstay of treatment for bacterial digestive infections and is highly effective. It is important that y... Read more about bacterial digestive infectionstreatments

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 24, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System


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