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What is an Intestinal Infection?

By L. Hepfer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An intestinal infection is any infection caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites that affects the gastrointestinal tract inside the body. Tiny organisms called pathogens are responsible for causing disease and infections within the stomach and intestinal tract also. Common symptoms that accompany any type of intestinal infection usually include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Rotavirus is a viral infection that occurs when someone comes in contact with infected human feces. It mainly affects children that are young and is often found in schools, daycares or home that have small children. While this viral intestinal infection does not usually require treatment, the fever accompanied with vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains can last up to a week.

Hepatitis A is a virus that affects people who have eaten fish from contaminated water or food that has been grown in contaminated soil. Sharing food and drinks with a contaminated person, sharing hypodermic needles and having sexual intercourse are all ways to spread the Hepatitis A infection. Hepatitis A can cause liver damage and those who are infected usually remain under a doctor's care.

Salmonella is a bacteria that causes an infection in the intestines. There are different strains of this bacteria that can cause mild to severe problems involving nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and severe abdominal cramps. Eating undercooked meat or products that have come from a contaminated animal causes calmonella poisoning.

Escherichia coli, usually referred to as E. coli, also comes in different strains like Salmonella. A specific strain of E. coli that is the most dangerous comes from contaminated cattle. Eating undercooked beef and consuming dairy products or juices that have not been pasteurized places a person in danger of contracting the E. coli bacteria.

Staphylococcus is a bacteria that causes food poisoning. Allowing food to sit at room temperature causes toxins to build up and produce this bacteria. Other types of bacterial infections include Listeriosis, Clostridium difficile, Campylobacteriosis, and Shigellosis.

A parasitic infection within the intestines can involve worms that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye or tiny protozoa or amoebae, that can only be seen by using a microscope. Tapeworms, roundworms and flukes live within the intestines and feed off of the food we eat, often leaving us malnourished. Protozoa and amoebae are so tiny that they are able to migrate to various parts of the body through the bloodstream and are very dangerous. A person infected with a parasite needs treated with medical attention.

An intestinal infection of any kind usually can be avoided. To avoid becoming infected, it is essential to wash, prepare, and cook all foods properly to kill viruses and bacteria. Washing our hands thoroughly before and after coming in contact with food or a contaminated person can kill off the infection before it starts. If a person does become infected, most infections will clear up on their own with proper rest and hydrating the body. Small children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to experiencing severe symptoms that may lead to death if not treated.

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Discussion Comments

By anon335030 — On May 17, 2013

I have infections in both of my intestines and antibiotic tabs have not cured it. Give me suggestions.

By anon277333 — On Jun 29, 2012

What organisms would you include in a differential diagnosis of a patient with diverticulitis?

By bagley79 — On May 03, 2011

What about treating these type of infections with natural methods?

I have heard of using honey and apple cider vinegar and drinking cranberry juice as possible alternative treatments to antibiotics. I have used cranberry juice to help with bladder infections so think it would not hurt to try it with intestinal infections too.

By SarahSon — On May 03, 2011

I certainly agree that regular hand washing can help kill infections before they start.

Intestinal yeast infection is another type of infection with some similar symptoms and is very common in pregnant women. Unfortunately, you can't avoid this by washing your hands, since it's caused by having too much yeast in your body. You may have similar symptoms of stomach cramps and discomfort.

Trying to keep a balance in your life, good nutrition and keeping stress at a minimum is always helpful.

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