What Is Bacterial
Bacterial gastroenteritis occurs when bacteria causes an
infection in your gut. This condition causes inflammation in your stomach and
intestines, and you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, severe
abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
Viruses cause many infections of the gastrointestinal
system, but bacterial infections are also quite common. Some people call this
type of infection “food poisoning.”
Bacterial gastroenteritis can result from poor hygiene.
Infection can also occur after coming in close contact with animals or
consuming food or water that has been contaminated with bacteria (or the toxic
substances they produce).
Causes of Bacterial
Numerous kinds of bacteria can cause gastroenteritis,
which is found in pork
which is found in dairy products, meat, and eggs
which is associated with water and found in swimming pools
which is found in meat, dairy products, and eggs
which is found in meat and poultry
- E. coli,
which is found in ground beef and salads
An outbreak of bacterial gastroenteritis can happen when
restaurants serve contaminated food to many people. An outbreak can also
trigger recalls of produce and other food products.
Risk Factors of
If you have a weak immune system due to an existing
condition or treatment, you may have a higher risk of bacterial
gastroenteritis. The risk also increases if you take drugs that decrease the
acidity in your stomach.
Handling food incorrectly can also raise your risk of
bacterial gastroenteritis. If food is undercooked, stored at room temperature
for too long, or insufficiently reheated, bacteria can survive and multiply
quickly. Bacteria can produce harmful substances known as toxins. These toxins
may remain after the reheating process.
Symptoms of Bacterial
The symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis may vary depending
on the type of bacteria causing your infection. The symptoms may include:
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- abdominal pains and cramps
- blood in your stools
Call your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after five
days, or two days for children. If a child older than three months continues to
vomit after 12 hours, call a doctor. Likewise, if a baby younger than three
months has diarrhea or vomiting, call your doctor.
Your doctor will ask questions about your illness and check
for signs of dehydration and abdominal pain. To determine which type of
bacteria is causing your infection, you may be required to give a stool sample
Blood samples may also be taken to check for evidence of
The goal of treatment is to keep you hydrated and avoid
complications. It’s important not to lose too much salt, such as sodium and
potassium. These must remain within certain ranges for your body to function
have a serious case of bacterial gastroenteritis, you may be admitted to the
hospital and given fluids and salts intravenously. Treatment with antibiotics
is usually reserved for the most severe cases of gastroenteritis.
If you have a milder case of bacterial gastroenteritis, you
may be able to treat your illness at home. You may find the following tips
- Drink fluids regularly throughout the day,
especially after an episode of diarrhea.
- If possible, eat little and often, and include
some salty foods.
- Consume foods or drinks containing potassium,
such as fruit juice and bananas.
- Don’t take any medication without consulting
- If you can’t keep any fluids down, you may need
If you already have gastroenteritis, you can take safety
precautions to avoid spreading the bacteria to others. Make sure you wash your hands
after using the toilet and before handling food. Avoid preparing food for other
people until your symptoms improve. It also helps to avoid close contact with
others during your illness. Additionally, wait 48 hours after your symptoms
stop before returning to work.
You can also take measures to help prevent bacterial
gastroenteritis infections. For example, avoid unpasteurized milk, raw meat, or
raw shellfish. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked
meats when preparing meals. Thoroughly wash salads and vegetables.
Additionally, make sure temperatures are either very hot or very cold if you’re
storing foods for more than a couple of hours.
Other preventative measures include:
- making sure kitchens are kept scrupulously clean
- washing your hands after using the toilet,
before handling different foods, after touching animals, and before eating
- drinking bottled water when traveling abroad and
taking any recommended vaccines
Bacterial gastroenteritis rarely causes complications in
healthy adults. Most people recover in less than a week. Those who are elderly
or very young are more vulnerable to the effects of gastroenteritis and are at
higher risk for complications. These individuals should be closely monitored,
as they may need medical care.