What is bacterial
gastroenteritis happens when bacteria causes an infection in your gut. This
causes inflammation in your stomach and intestines. You may also experience symptoms
like vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
viruses cause many gastrointestinal infections, bacterial infections are also
common. Some people call this infection “food poisoning.”
gastroenteritis can result from poor hygiene. Infection can also occur after
close contact with animals or consuming food or water contaminated with
bacteria (or the toxic substances bacteria produce).
Symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis
gastroenteritis symptoms vary depending on the bacteria causing your infection.
The symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- abdominal pains and cramps
- blood in your stools
your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after five days (two days for
children). If a child older than three months continues to vomit after 12
hours, call a doctor. If a baby younger than three months has diarrhea or
vomiting, call your doctor.
Treating bacterial gastroenteritis
is meant to keep you hydrated and avoid complications. It’s important not to
lose too much salt, such as sodium and potassium. Your body needs these in
certain amounts in order to function properly.
you have a serious case of bacterial gastroenteritis, you may be admitted to
the hospital and given fluids and salts intravenously. Antibiotics are usually
reserved for the most severe cases.
Home remedies for mild cases
you have a milder case, you may be able to treat your illness at home. Try the
- Drink fluids regularly
throughout the day, especially after bouts of diarrhea.
- Eat little and often, and
include some salty foods.
- Consume foods or drinks with
potassium, such as fruit juice and bananas.
- Don’t take any medications
without asking your doctor.
- Go to the hospital if you
can’t keep any fluids down.
few ingredients you may have at home can help keep your electrolytes balanced
and treat diarrhea. Ginger can help combat infection and make stomach or
abdominal pain less severe. Apple cider vinegar and basil can also soothe your
stomach as well as strengthen your stomach against future infections.
eating dairy, fruit, or high-fiber foods to keep diarrhea from getting worse.
medicines that neutralize your stomach acid can help fight these infections.
Medicines that treat symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pains can
help ease the stress and pain of the infection. Don’t take over-the-counter
treatments unless your doctor tells you to do so.
of bacterial gastroenteritis
bacteria can cause gastroenteritis, including:
- yersinia, found in pork
- staphylococcus, found in dairy products,
meat, and eggs
- shigella, found in water (often
- salmonella, found in meat, dairy
products, and eggs
- campylobacter, found in meat and poultry
- E. coli, found in ground beef and
gastroenteritis outbreaks can happen when restaurants serve contaminated food
to many people. An outbreak can also trigger recalls of produce and other
gastroenteritis can be easily transmitted from person to person if someone
carries the bacteria on their hands. Every time a person infected with this
bacteria touches food, objects, or other people, they risk spreading the
infection to others. You can even cause the infection to get into your own body
if you touch your eyes, mouth, or other open parts of your body with infected
especially at risk for these infections if you travel a lot or live in a
crowded area. Washing your hands often and using hand sanitizer with more than
60 percent alcohol can help you avoid catching infections from the people
If you already have gastroenteritis, take safety precautions to avoid spreading
the bacteria to others.
your hands after using the toilet and before handling food. Don’t prepare food
for other people until your symptoms improve. Avoid close contact with others
during your illness. After your symptoms stop, try to wait at least 48 hours
before returning to work.
can also help prevent bacterial gastroenteritis infections by avoiding
unpasteurized milk, raw meat, or raw shellfish. Use separate cutting boards and
utensils for raw and cooked meats when preparing meals. Wash salads and
vegetables thoroughly. Make sure to store food at either very hot or very cold temperatures
if you’re storing them for more than a couple of hours.
preventative measures include:
- keeping your kitchen consistently
- washing your hands after
using the toilet, before handling different foods, after touching animals,
and before eating
- drinking bottled water while
traveling abroad and getting recommended vaccines
factors of bacterial gastroenteritis
you have a weak immune system because of an existing condition or treatment,
you may have a higher risk of bacterial gastroenteritis. The risk also
increases if you take drugs that decrease stomach acidity.
food incorrectly can also raise your risk of bacterial gastroenteritis. Food
that’s undercooked, stored too long at room temperature, or not reheated well
can aid in the spread and survival of bacteria.
can produce harmful substances known as toxins. These toxins can remain even
after reheating food.
doctor will ask questions about your illness and check for signs of dehydration
and abdominal pain. To find out which bacteria is causing your infection, you
may be required to provide a stool sample for analysis.
doctor may also take a blood sample to check for dehydration.
gastroenteritis infections rarely cause complications in healthy adults and
usually last less than a week. Older adults or very young children are more
vulnerable to symptoms of gastroenteritis and are at higher risk for
complications. These individuals should be closely monitored, as they may need
of these infections include high fevers, muscle pain, and inability to control
your bowel movements. Some bacterial infections can cause your kidneys to fail,
bleeding in your intestinal tract, and anemia.
severe infections left untreated can cause brain damage and death. Quickly
seeking treatment for bacterial gastroenteritis lessens your risk of having
can be more prone to bacterial gastroenteritis infections than adults. For
example, a 2015 report states that children in the United
States under a year old are more likely to get salmonella infections. Most salmonella
infections happen when children consume contaminated food or water or come
into contact with animals that carry the bacteria. Young children are also more
likely to get infections from Clostridium
difficile. These bacteria are mostly found in dirt and animal feces.
are more likely to develop infections from these types of bacteria. However,
like adults, children are susceptible to any bacterial infections. Make sure
your child practices good hygiene, washing their hands regularly, and avoiding
putting their dirty hands in their mouths or near their eyes. Wash your own
hands after changing your child’s diaper. Wash and prepare food thoroughly,
cooking raw dishes like eggs, vegetables, and meat until they’re well done.
bacterial infection symptoms in children are the same as symptoms in adults.
Young children are especially prone to diarrhea, vomiting, and fevers. One
unique symptom of children with these infections is a dry diaper. If your child
hasn’t needed a diaper change for over six hours, they may be dehydrated. Talk
to your doctor right away if your child has any of these symptoms. If your
child has diarrhea or other related symptoms, make sure they drink plenty of
Recovery and outlook
seeking treatment or medical care, get plenty of rest to help your body fight
the infection. If you have diarrhea or vomiting, drink plenty of liquids to
keep yourself hydrated. Don’t eat any dairy or fruit to avoid making your
diarrhea worse. Sucking on ice cubes can help if you can’t keep food or water
of these bacterial infections can happen on food sold in many grocery stores.
Keep up on news stories about public outbreaks of bacteria on certain types of
gastroenteritis infections usually last for one to three days. In some cases,
infections can last for weeks and be harmful if left untreated. Seek treatment
as soon as you show symptoms of an infection to stop the infection from
spreading. With good medical care and proper treatment, your infection will
likely go away in a few days.