This Is What You Should Do If You Get Infected With E. Coli

Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestines of both humans and animals. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can cause severe food poisoning (via Health). Caused by eating and drinking contaminated foods and beverages, E. coli infections affect the intestines and can cause a number of unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. You can get an E. coli infection by consuming uncooked ground meat, unpasteurized milk and juices, and contaminated fruits and vegetables.

"People can also become infected with E. coli when a contaminated water supply has not been adequately treated with chlorine or when people accidentally swallow contaminated water while swimming in a pool or lake infected with feces," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told Health. Common symptoms of an E. coli infection include fever, nausea, cramps, vomiting, and watery or bloody diarrhea. These symptoms can occur within a few days after getting infected and can last as long as a week (via WebMD).

How to treat an E. coli infection

Most E. coli infections resolve on their own, but there are a few steps you can take to help ease your symptoms. For instance, you can manage your infection by drinking plenty of water and fluids (via WebMD). This will help replace the liquids you lost through vomiting and diarrhea and to avoid dehydration. It's also important to get enough rest in order to prevent lethargy and fatigue.

Although it might seem like a good idea, you really shouldn't take any antidiarrheal medications. That's because they can interfere with your digestive system's process of ridding your body of the harmful bacteria. Instead, you can help settle your stomach by eating low-fiber foods like rice, crackers, eggs, and toast. It's also crucial to avoid eating dairy products and fatty or high-fiber foods, which may make your symptoms worse. Sticking to a bland and simple diet should help your stomach recover in a matter of days.