E.coli Symptoms and Treatment

E. coli infection is caused by Escherichia coli bacteria that resides in the intestine.

Most of these gram negative rod shaped E. coli bacteria are harmless and helps in producing Vitamin K2 to the host and in preventing the existence of other harmful bacteria within the intestine. But some E. coli bacteria are responsible for infection and serious food poisoning.

Causes of gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis caused by an infection. The infections are transmitted through contact with an infected person, poor hygiene and contaminated food or drink.

The popular cause is usually viral. A rotavirus is the cause of more than 50 per cent of under-twos with the condition.

Bacteria are a cause of Gastroenteritis, less common but tend to be more severe and include Campylobacter, Shigella and E. coliinfections.

Affected persons

People at all age groups may be affected gastroenteritis but the most common affected group is in the under-fives.


These include:

  • Bloody Diarrhea: One of the prominent e coli symptoms is diarrhea with dark red blood. At times the diarrhea is non bloody at the beginning and becomes bloody after few days.
  • Vomiting: Recurrent vomiting is one of the Ecoli symptoms that a patient may experience. The stomach empties itself frequently resulting in a heavy loss of weight.


  • Refusal of feeds (babies)

  • Loss of appetite (older children): This is a case where the person never feels hungry. He loses appetite. The E. coli viruses attack the GI and the wall at the small intestine resulting in diarrhea. The person loses more fluids and weight loss occurs.
  • Fever: A very mild fever of temperature less than 101F occurs suddenly. The fever is mild but disturbing.
  • Tummy ache
  • Nausea: The infected person suffers from upper abdominal pain and an urging sensation to vomit is observed. It is a sensation of stomach trying to empty itself. They are usually short-lived, but when prolonged gets uneasy.
  • Lethargy
  • Stomach cramping: Abdominal cramps occur as a reaction to the attack from E. coli bacteria. A muscle contraction at the abdomen is abdominal cramping and is often mild and painful.
  • Drowsiness

If you see your child have a dry mouth, sunken eyes with no tears and/or a sunken fontanelle (the gap in a baby’s skull), he/she may be dehydrated. As for babies, they may also pass little or no urine.


As regard older children with mild gastroenteritis, drink plenty of rehydrating fluid (from the chemist) or unsweetened fruit juices and eat as normally as possible. Light foods such as soup, pasta, rice and bread are advised to eat.

In babies, feed normally (particularly, and continue with normal full-strength feeds if possible in bottlefed babies) give rehydrating solution as in older children.

Visit your GP to get medical advice for small babies, children who seem very unwell or dehydrated or even if the gastroenteritis doesn’t settle in a day or two.


Hospital treatment is necessary for severe cases. Some conditions may be mistaken for gastroenteritis.

Be particularly careful about hygiene after a bout of gastroenteritis because the child may be infectious for some time.

Damage to the intestinal mucosa and temporary lactose intolerance may make some children get persistent watery diarrhea. Continue with rehydrating solutions for 24 hours but if it become chronic, get advice from expert.

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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