ABC Medical Center > E. coli

What is E. coli?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a family of bacteria that inhabit human and animal intestines, being generally harmless, although sometimes they can cause mild symptoms. However, some dangerous strains can cause diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, acute abdominal pain, severe infections, and vomiting, among other symptoms.

E.coli can spread quickly and easily from one infected person to another due to poor hygiene. Although we are all vulnerable to infection with this bacteria, some factors can contribute to its appearance, such as:

  • Consuming contaminated food, mainly raw vegetables, undercooked meat, and unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Contact with animals carrying these bacteria.
  • Older adults and young children are more exposed to being infected with E.coli and having complications.
  • Drinking contaminated water.
  • Improper hygiene, especially children who wear diapers can transmit the bacteria.
  • Low levels of stomach acid.
  • Weak immune system due to AIDS, cancer treatments, or organ transplants.

Signs and symptoms E. coli

E.coli symptoms appear two or three days after infection, which includes:

  • Mild diarrhea that can worsen and present blood.
  • Abdominal spasms.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomit.
  • Weakness and tiredness.
  • High fever.

If you experience some of these symptoms, see your doctor to avoid complications that put your health at risk.

Diagnosis and treatment E. coli

After analyzing your symptoms and clinical history, your doctor will request a stool sample to perform a stool culture to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions that could contribute to your discomfort.

The treatment to follow is prepared according to the symptoms intensity, the affected organs, and the type of bacteria, but normally includes:

  • Rest.
  • Plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Bland diet, avoiding fatty and high-fiber foods, as well as dairy products, as they can increase the symptoms.
  • Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have an E.coli infection out of your digestive tract.

If the E.coli infection has caused an abscess, you will likely require surgery to remove the pus.

If the infection has caused kidney failure and is life-threatening, you will require hospitalization for intravenous hydration, dialysis, and blood transfusions.

Like any other disease, prevention is the best cure, so you should follow these recommendations:

  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked foods, as well as unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Practice good hand hygiene, especially after having contact with animals, changing diapers, handling raw food, and going to the bathroom.
  • Disinfect fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink purified water.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • Expósito BLM, Bermellón SS, Lescaille GL, et al. Resistencia antimicrobiana de la Escherichia coli en pacientes con infección del tracto urinario. RIC. 2019;98(6):755-764.

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