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E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, is a bacteria that thrives in the intestines of humans and animals and is typically transferred to the body from contaminated food or water or vegetables that havent been washed properly. There are many different types of E. coli that arent harmful and will cause very few symptoms, though some are more serious such as E. coli O157:H7. This is the most dangerous type of E. coli and causes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. It has been linked to complications like kidney failure and even death without proper treatment. It poses more of a risk to children and older adults as their immune system isnt as strong against this type of bacteria.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of E. Coli

The most common foods to get E. coli from are ground beef, unpasteurized milk, meals served at restaurants, fresh produce and contaminated water. While anyone can get the E. coli infection, some people are susceptible to the symptoms and health risk. This includes young children and older adults, anyone with a poor immune system such as from cancer or AIDS, people that often eat undercooked meat and eating raw vegetables without washing or raw milk. Complications from E. coli infections include dehydration, weight loss from vomiting, loss of vitamins while you are sick from the infection and the worst complications, kidney failure or death. If you think you may have gotten E. coli, call your doctor right away to avoid these potential complications.

Signs, Symptoms and Testsof E. Coli

The signs and symptoms of E. coli infections usually start about three days after being exposed to the bacteria. The symptoms may come on one at a time or all at once. They include abdominal cramping, bloody diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Some dangerous side effects of the infection include a high fever, weakness, pale skin, bruising and problems urinating as these are signs of kidney problems. If you notice any of these signs, get emergency medical attention. To get an official diagnosis of E. coli poisoning, your doctor will need a sample of your stool to be sent to the lab. It will be tested for the presence of the E. coli bacteria and will look for toxins, such as those present when you have E. coli O157:H7.

Treatment, Drugs and Preventionof E. Coli

If you have been diagnosed with E. coli infection from the O157:H7 bacteria, there isnt a treatment available to cure the infection. Other forms of E coli infections can be treated with antibiotics. Fluid replacement, especially electrolytes, may also be necessary. For all types of E. coli infection, drink plenty of water and get proper rest.

You may need to be hospitalized if youre showing signs of kidney failure. However, you will need to be careful of dehydration and avoid it by drinking clear liquids including water and broth while avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Slowly add solid food into your diet, sticking to low-fiber foods. Avoid seasoned foods, fatty or fried foods and dairy products while recovering. You should start feeling better after about a week. Prevent E. coli poisoning by being more weary of what you eat such as not eating red meat that has pink inside, only drinking water from a trusted source, washing your raw vegetables, keeping raw foods away from other food items and washing your hands and utensils thoroughly after touching raw meat.