Intestinal infection is inflammation of the inner surface of the intestine caused by different pathogens such as bacteria, viruses or fungi. Intestinal infection can be also caused by parasites. This medical condition features with characteristic symptoms (nausea, vomiting and diarrhea) and there may be also additional symptoms and signs depending on the infective agent that has led to the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the intestine.
There are many viruses able to cause intestinal infection and rotavirus and hepatitis A virus are only some of them. Bacterial intestinal infection generally occurs after a person consumes food contaminated with particular bacteria. Excessive and prolonged intake of antibiotics can result in candidiasis, intestinal infection caused by a specific fungi. And finally, parasitic infestation occurs due to consumption of food or water contaminated with specific parasites.
Symptoms and Signs of Intestinal Infection
The most common symptom of intestinal infection is nausea. Nausea is frequently accompanied by vomiting although some patients only complain about nausea. Nausea and additional vomiting can be mild or very severe when they lead to dehydration. One more feature of intestinal infection is diarrhea. Diarrhea can similarly to vomiting cause excessive loss of fluids and dehydration. In case of parasitic infestation patients may develop constipation.
Patients suffering from intestinal infection additionally complain about abdominal cramps. Abdominal crams are characteristic for bacterial intestinal infection. In severe cases abdominal crams may develop into more serious abdominal pain. Furthermore, there is an evident loss of appetite and if it lasts long enough patients may also lose weight.
In case of massive parasitic infestation there is an increased chance of intestinal obstruction. Some parasites cause loss of blood. If loss of blood lasts long enough there is a chance of anemia. In this case patients develop additional symptoms and signs of anemia.
Infective agents in the intestine may be responsible for impairment of the immune system. There is also a chance of irritability associated with intensive and prolonged symptoms of the infection. In some cases of parasites infestation patients may develop skin rashes.
Prevention of Intestinal Infection
Intestinal infection can be avoided with proper preparation of food. The food must be thoroughly washed and properly cooked. By avoiding eating raw food one may avoid certain intestinal infections. Even water used for drinking and food preparation must be clear of pathogens. Apart from the previously mentioned proper hygiene measures such as regular washing of hands with soap and hot water especially after using a toilet can be highly effective in prevention against intestinal infections.