Intestinal infections

Intestinal infections

Intestinal infection is inflammation that can occur in the small intestine or large intestine. This condition is generally characterized by fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. Mild intestinal infections can heal on their own. However, if the symptoms are severe and bothersome, the patient needs to be hospitalized.

Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi are microorganisms that can be found in water, soil, and even the food that is consumed daily. If it enters the body and grows uncontrollably, these microorganisms can cause health problems, including intestinal infections.

Causes of Intestinal Infection

Intestinal infection or enterocolitis can be caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses or fungi. The following is an explanation of each cause of intestinal infection and how it spreads:

1. Bacteria

Some types of bacteria that can cause intestinal infections are:

  • E. coli
  • Shigella
  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridium
  • Yersinia

A person can become infected with these bacteria if they eat food, such as eggs and meat, that are not thoroughly cooked or consume contaminated water.

2. Parasites

Types of parasites that cause intestinal infections include Entamoeba histolytica and Balantidium coli. This parasite is generally spread through water, for example by swimming in public swimming pools and drinking water from contaminated wells or water tanks.

3. Viruses

Cytomegalovirus is a type of virus that causes intestinal infections. This virus is generally spread through contact with the saliva and urine of sufferers, or through blood transfusions. Cytomegalovirus infectioncan cause more serious conditions in people with HIV/AIDS and organ transplant recipients.

4. Mushrooms

Candida fungi live in the intestines in controlled quantities. However, if it grows too much, this fungus can cause intestinal infections.

Apart from the causes above, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of getting an intestinal infection, namely:

  • Work in a hospital or other health facility
  • Not washing hands after using the toilet or before eating
  • Drinking or eating from contaminated water and food
  • Have a weak immune system, for example due to diabetes or HIV / AIDS
  • Undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • Have had an organ transplant

Intestinal Infection Symptoms

Symptoms of intestinal infections can appear hours or days after infection occurs. Some of the common symptoms of intestinal infections are:

  • stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • There is blood in the stool

When to see a doctor

Diarrhea is an early symptom of intestinal infection. This condition usually heals with self-care at home. However, if it continues for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by signs of dehydration , consult a doctor immediately .

Diagnosis of Intestinal Infection

To diagnose an intestinal infection, the doctor will ask questions related to the patient's symptoms. After that, the doctor will carry out supporting examinations, such as:

  • Blood test, to confirm signs of intestinal infection.
  • Stool examination , to detect the type of microorganism that causes intestinal infection
  • Colonoscopy, to see the condition of the large intestine and the end of the large intestine (rectum) using a special tube equipped with a camera and light

Intestinal Infection Treatment

Handling intestinal infections can range from administering drugs to surgery. Here is the explanation:

Administration of drugs

The type of medicine given depends on the cause of the intestinal infection, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aminosalicylate or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in the intestines
  • Antibiotic drugs, such as ciprofloxacin , ampicillin, and rifaximin to treat intestinal infections caused by bacteria
  • Immunosuppressant drugs , such as mercaptopurine, azathioprine, or cyclosporine
  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Antifungal medication to treat fungal infections
  • Anti-diarrhoeal drugs, such as loperamide
  • Gastric acid relievers, bloating, or nausea, such as lansoprazole , metoclopramide , or ondansetron


If the administration of drugs is not effective in dealing with intestinal infections or if intestinal infections get worse, the doctor will suggest a surgical procedure to remove the problematic intestine.

In addition to the treatment methods above, doctors will also recommend that patients undergo self-care to speed up the recovery process, such as:

  • Drink water more often or ORS if necessary
  • Eat small portions, but often
  • Eat low-fat and low-fiber foods when you have diarrhea
  • Avoid consuming milk and its processed products, caffeinated drinks, and drinks that contain high sugar

Intestinal Infection Complications

Intestinal infections can increase the risk of developing other health problems, especially if not treated properly. Some of the complications that can occur include:

  • A tear in the colon
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe dehydration
  • Colon cancer
  • Inflammation of the brain ( encephalitis ) or inflammation of the lining of the brain (meningitis)
  • seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Inflammation of the pancreas ( pancreatitis )
  • Decreased blood sugar and blood electrolyte levels
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Reactive arthritis ( Reiter's syndrome )
  • Sepsis

Prevention of Intestinal Infections

Intestinal infection is a disease that can be prevented. This can be done, among others, by doing the following:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water before or after eating, serving food, going to the toilet, and after touching animals.
  • Do not drink water from sources that are not guaranteed to be clean.
  • Use cooking or eating utensils that have been washed clean.
  • Clean food ingredients using running water.
  • Cook food, such as eggs, meat and seafood until completely cooked.
  • Store groceries in the refrigerator.
  • Cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
  • Do not make contact with other people if you are sick with an infection, or when someone else is sick with an infection.
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