Overview of bacterial gastroenteritis
Bacterial gastroenteritis is caused by a bacterial infection in your intestine. It can cause inflammation in your stomach and intestines. You may also experience symptoms such as vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
While viruses cause many gastrointestinal infections, bacterial infections are also common. Some people call this infection “food poisoning.”
Bacterial gastroenteritis is caused by poor hygiene. Infection can also occur after close contact with animals or ingestion of food contaminated with bacteria (or toxins produced by bacteria).
How is bacterial gastroenteritis spread?
Contaminated food or water. You can get gastroenteritis by ingesting food or water that contains harmful bacteria (such as Salmonella and Campylobacter). Food becomes contaminated when food managers don’t wash their hands. Or when food is not stored, handled, or cooked.
People with bacterial gastroenteritis have harmful bacteria in their stools. When hands are washed well after using the bathroom, they can transmit germs to objects. If you touch the same objects, you can pick up the germs on your hands and transfer them to your mouth.
Symptoms range from mild pain to malignancy. Each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms can include:
- Fever (sometimes very high)
- Cramps and abdominal pains
- Diarrhea, probably bloody
- Electrolyte imbalance
These symptoms can occur with all types of gastroenteritis (viral and bacterial). High fever and bloody diarrhea are more common with bacterial gastroenteritis. If left untreated, acute bacterial gastroenteritis can lead to severe dehydration, nerve problems, kidney failure, and even death.
The symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis seem to be similar to other conditions or health problems. Always speak with your healthcare provider to get a diagnosis.
Many bacteria cause gastroenteritis, including:
- Yersinia, found in pork
- Staphylococcus found in dairy, meat, and eggs
- Shigella, found in water (often pools)
- Salmonella, found in meat, dairy, and eggs
- Campylobacter found in meat, and poultry
- E. coli, which is found in ground beef and salads
Bacterial gastroenteritis is spread when restaurants serve contaminated food to many people. An extension is reminiscent of a product and other foods.
Bacterial gastroenteritis spreads easily from person to person if someone carries the bacteria on their hands. Every time an infected person touches food, objects, or other people, they run the risk of transmitting the infection to others. The infection can also enter your body if you touch your eyes, mouth, or other exposed parts of your body with infected hands.
If you travel a lot or live in a crowded area, you are at risk for these infections. Washing your hands frequently and using a hand sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol can help prevent infections from those around you.
- A doctor may request a stool sample to diagnose bacterial gastroenteritis.
- Adults with bacterial gastroenteritis should see a doctor if their symptoms do not clear up within 5 days.
- People should take children to see a doctor if their symptoms do not clear up within 2 days.
- A doctor will ask the individual about their symptoms. If the doctor suspects bacterial gastroenteritis, they may request a stool sample to identify the type of bacteria causing the infection.
Bacterial gastroenteritis often goes away on its own without any treatment. However, vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so it is important to stay hydrated. This can usually be accomplished at home by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. Vomiting and diarrhea cause the body to lose essential minerals like sodium, potassium, and calcium.
Eating soup or broth replaces liquids and minerals. Liquid and mineral resolution installation solutions are also available in pharmacies. If a person cannot reduce fluids or is too dehydrated, they may need to go to the hospital. There, a doctor gives them fluids and electrolytes.
In severe cases of bacterial gastroenteritis, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. In general, people can treat the symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis at home:
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink enough fluids to boil
- Eat foods rich in minerals in a short period of time
- Avoid dairy products, high-fiber foods, and fruits
- Avoid sports or soda or other sugary drinks
Because some medications can prolong symptoms, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor before taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat bacterial gastroenteritis.
High fever can be a complication of bacterial gastroenteritis. For most people, bacterial gastroenteritis resolves within a week. The most common problem is dehydration, which occurs when people lose fluids from vomiting and diarrhea and do not replace them.
If a person is very dehydrated, they will have to go to the hospital. Children and the elderly are at risk for complications, so doctors should examine them closely.
- Severe fever
- Muscle pains
- Loss of bowel control
- Bleeding in the intestinal tract, causing blood clots
- Renal insufficiency
In very rare cases, untreated bacterial gastroenteritis can lead to brain damage or death. Anyone experiencing severe or persistent symptoms should seek medical help as soon as possible.
A person can use the following hygiene methods to prevent bacterial gastroenteritis:
- Wash your hands well before handling food and after using the bathroom
- Wash your hands well after handling animals, especially farm animals
- Using a special cutting board for raw meat
- Wash vegetables, fruits, and salads well before eating
- Avoid close contact with people with gastroenteritis
- Drink bottled water, especially when traveling to developing countries
- Avoid eating raw meat and fish
- Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk
- Proper food storage and disposal of expired or perishable items
- Keeping the kitchen and bathroom clean
The following precautions can help people with bacterial gastroenteritis prevent the infection from spreading to others:
- Avoid close contact with other people and stay home from work or school
- Wash hands frequently
- Avoid cooking or handling food that other people can eat
- Clean door handles and other sharing items after touching them
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