What is E. coli enteritis?

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Enteritis is characterized by swelling or inflammation of the intestines. One of the usual causes of enteritis is the bacterium Escherichia coli.

There are various strains of E. coli where most are relatively harmless. Nevertheless, there are noxious strains that can trigger significant illness. If exposed to a toxic strain, one is at risk for developing enteritis or food poisoning.

What are the indications?

The symptoms of E. coli enteritis usually arise 24-72 hours after being exposed. The main symptom is severe, abrupt diarrhea that is streaked with blood.

The symptoms of E. coli enteritis usually arise 24-72 hours after being exposed. The main symptom is severe, abrupt diarrhea that is streaked with blood. The other symptoms include:

  • Intestinal gas
  • Fever
  • Severe cramping
  • Sweating
  • Lethargy
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

If an individual develops the following symptoms, a doctor must be consulted right away:

  • Fever higher than 101 degrees F in adults and over 100.4 degrees F in children
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Blood-streaked urine or stool
  • Inability to keep fluids down
  • Diarrhea for more than 5 days in adults or 3 days for children
  • Pain that does not settle after a bowel movement


The main complication of enteritis is dehydration due to diarrhea. Increasing the intake of fluids and maintaining proper hydration is vital. If the individual could not keep fluids down due to diarrhea or vomiting, hospitalization is required so that intravenous fluids can be started.

Even though antibiotics are prescribed in managing bacterial infections, there is no proof that they are effective in managing E. coli. Generally, antibiotics increases the risk for hemolytic uremia.

In most individuals, they can recover without medication in 2 days. The vital part of treatment is to increase the intake of fluids and getting enough rest.

Preventive measures

  • Regularly wash hands especially after using the bathroom, before preparing or eating food and changing diapers.
  • Meat must be thoroughly cooked using a meat thermometer to determine if it has reached a safe temperature.
  • Wash any cooking utensils, cutting boards and knives that are frequently exposed to raw food.
  • Avoid eating raw fish and oysters as well as raw juices and dairy products that are unpasteurized.
  • Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables especially those that are eaten raw.
  • Do not drink water while swimming or playing in streams, lakes, ponds and swimming pools.

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