E. coli enteritis : Treatment

Treatment

Cases usually clear up on their own within 1 – 3 days, and no treatment is required.

Antidiarrheal medication may not be recommended, because it can slow the bacteria from leaving the digestive tract.

You may need electrolyte solutions if you are dehydrated. Persons with diarrhea (especially young children) who are unable to drink fluids because of nausea may need medical care and intravenous fluids.

If you take diuretics and develop diarrhea, you may need to stop taking the diuretic during the episode. Do not stop taking any medicine without the advice of your health care provider.

Avoid dairy products. They may make the diarrhea worse due to temporary lactose intolerance.

You can buy medicines at the drugstore that can help stop or slow diarrhea. Do not use these medicines without talking to your health care provider if you have bloody diarrhea or a fever. Do not give these medicines to children.

See also: Diarrhea in children

Prognosis (Expectations)

The illness usually runs its course in a few days, without treatment. A small number of patients may need to be admitted to the hospital if they become very dehydrated or they develop hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Complications

Certain types of E. coli can cause severe anemia or even kidney failure.

Calling Your Health Care Provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:

  • You are unable to keep fluids down
  • Diarrhea does not go away in 3 – 4 days
  • You see blood in your stool
  • You develop symptoms of dehydration
  • Your symptoms worsen or do not improve with treatment
  • You develop new symptoms


Review Date : 1/20/2010
Reviewed By : Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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