E. coli (Escherichia coli), is a type of bacteria that normally lives in the intestines.
Most types of E. coli are harmless and even help keep your digestive tract healthy. But some strains can cause diarrhea if you eat contaminated food or drink fouled water.
While many of us associate E. coli with food poisoning, you can also get pneumonia, breathing problems, and urinary tract infections from different types of the bacteria. In fact, 75% to 95% of urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli.
You’ll probably start to feel ill 2 to 5 days after you’ve taken in the E. coli bacteria. The most common symptoms are:
- Abdominal cramps
- Diarrhea, which may be bloody
- Constant fatigue
You may not have a fever. If you do, it may be slight.
Healthy people infected with E. coli usually feel better within a week.
The only way your doctor can know for sure if you have an E. coli infection is to send a sample of your stool to a lab to be analyzed.
Fortunately, the infection usually goes away on its own.
For some types of E.coli associated with diarrhea, such as the watery travelers’ diarrhea, antibiotics can shorten the length of time you have symptoms and might be used in moderately severe cases.
It’s important to rest and get plenty of fluids to replace what your body is losing through vomiting or diarrhea.
Don’t take over-the-counter medications that fight diarrhea. You don’t want to slow down your digestive system, because that will delay your body’s shedding of the infection.
When you start to feel better, stick to low-fiber foods at first such as:
Avoid having dairy products and foods that are high in fat or fiber can make your symptoms worse.
Take care of your health and see your doctor right away if you think you have E.coli.
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