Do you like eating hamburgers? Are you addicted to the taste of a rare steak? Eating undercooked meat can make you sick, leading to diarrhea, stomach pain, etc. This might be due to E. coli.
Keep reading for more information about E. coli infections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, there are nearly 95,000 cases of food poisoning caused by E. coli in the US each year. This infection happens if you eat contaminated food or drink unpasteurized milk or water.
What is E. coli?
E. coli (Escherichia coli) is a bacteria found in your intestines. Most E. coli bacteria are harmless and help to digest the food. However, there are some strains of E. coli that can cause diarrhea, cramps, stomach pain, or low-grade fever. It can sometimes lead to serious health-related problems like urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, or pneumonia. There are 6 strains of E. coli that are associated with diarrhea:
- Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)
- Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC)
- Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC)
- Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC)
- Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC)
- Diffusely adherent E. coli (DAEC)
The first two strains (STEC & ETEC) are the most common ones that cause diarrhea. Most healthy adults recover from it within a week. This infection mostly affects old people and young children, and it can be life-threatening for people suffering from kidney failure.
Different sources of contaminated water or food can lead to infection. The main causes of E. coli infection are:
- Undercooked food, especially hamburgers,
- Unpasteurized raw milk,
- Soft Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk,
- Unpasteurized raw juices, or raw cider,
- Fruits and vegetables washed in contaminated water,
- Drinking contaminated water, or
- Direct contact with bacteria by contaminated hands.
Symptoms vary from mild stomach pain or diarrhea and can get worse over time. These are the common symptoms you will notice:
- Diarrhea (from mild watery to severe bloody)
- Stomach pain and cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever ranges < 101 °F
Symptoms can vary from person to person. It can be noticeable as early as the next day or show up 10 days (about 1 and a half weeks) later.
Although, most of the time E. coli cures itself by taking plenty of rest and keeping yourself hydrated. If you have a serious E. coli infection you need to be hospitalized to take treatment which includes IV fluids, blood transfusions, and kidney dialysis (in extreme cases).
There are some steps you can take to avoid E. coli infection:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after cooking, handling raw meat or poultry, after using the restroom, before eating, after changing diapers, etc.
- Don’t defrost frozen meat on the counter. Keep it separate from other food items and dishes by using a separate plastic bag.
- Don’t wash the meat before cooking. It can spread the bacteria to nearby surfaces, utensils, and other food.
- Use a plastic or ceramic board for cutting raw meat. Wash it thoroughly first with a dishwasher and water, before cutting other food items to avoid cross-contamination.
- Wash all the vegetables or fruits before eating or cooking. Cook it well, don’t leave it undercooked.
- Avoid drinking and eating raw food items like milk, meat, unpasteurized dairy products, or unpasteurized juices.
- Avoid swallowing water when swimming in swimming pools, ponds, lakes, etc.
Although most E. coli strains are harmless, you should be careful what you are eating and take all the necessary precautions to avoid this infection. Even though it heals itself, if you develop severe infection complications you might need to be hospitalized to control its symptoms. Remember that good eating habits and necessary precautions help you to live a healthy life without problems.
Want to know more about E. coli infections and how to fight them?
At Doral Health and Wellness, we have doctors that can help you manage your condition. For more information, you can visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11212, or call us at 1-347-384-5690 or 1-347-868-1016. You can also visit our website at https://doralhw.org or contact us at email@example.com if you have any queries.