There is a lot of misinformation when it comes to an E Coli infection. Many people just wrap it all up under the title of “food poisoning” and accept that sometimes they may eat some contaminated food. However, doing that leaves a person vulnerable to a very uncomfortable bacterial infection.
It’s important to know that the E Coli bacteria is actually something that lives in the intestines of healthy people. It’s a natural occuring bacteria. However, there are some strains of E Coli which cause the painful diarrhea and cramping that is so common. For the purposes of this article, know that any references to E Coli are only talking about the troublesome strains. E Coli is typically not a serious condition, however, it’s very possible for children or the elderly to develop a form of kidney failure from getting it, and therefore avoidance is an especially good idea.
Causes of E Coli
There is actually quite a few ways that someone may find themselves contaminated with the E Coli bacteria. People normally think of food, however, there is also several other ways in which a person may find themselves dealing with E Coli. The causes include:
- Contaminated Ground Beef - This is one of the most common ways. If cows are slaughtered incorrectly, the natural E Coli from their intestines can be included in the beef. This is especially troublesome because typically meat from multiple animals gets combined together during the process. This means if even one is incorrectly processed, all of the meat becomes tainted.
- Lettuce and Spinach - This form is one of the most common and people are becoming far more aware of it. The runoff from cattle farms can easily contaminate a field with E Coli, then the vegetables obtain it during the growing process. The two mentioned very commonly have to deal with E Coli.
- Water - If water isn’t properly filtered and cleaned, E Coli can spread through the water system. This happens when human or animal feces end up polluting water sources (both ground and surface).
- Person to Person - Anyone who has E Coli can very easily spread it to another person if they don’t properly sterilize their hands with proper washing.
Symptoms of E Coli
Recognizing E Coli in people is not difficult. There are three main symptoms that people may have and all are easily felt. It’s good to know that the symptoms of E Coli can have very different levels of severity. The symptoms are:
- Diarrhea - This can be a mild issue or very severe and have sources of blood within it.
- Cramping - The abdomen will constantly feel painful and tender during the cramping process.
- Nausea - The heavy nausea will commonly turn to vomiting in some people.
Prevention and Treatment of E Coli
The key to avoiding E Coli is often just avoiding the scenarios where one might come in contact with the causes. Always cook ground beef to a well done level so ensure no potential bacteria remains. 160 degrees F is the right temperature and a meat thermometer is really handy. Also ensure that all vegetables are properly washed. It’s hard to fully wash a piece of lettuce due to the texture, but washing provides a reduction in the amount of E Coli present.
Beyond that, it’s always important to avoid potential cross contamination in foods by always washing utensils and keeping raw food separate from cooked. Washing makes things safer. It’s kind of as simple as that.
Typically when it comes to E Coli, it’s all about resting and taking a lot of fluids. Without the fluids, it’s very possible to become dehydrated. It’s important to note that anti-diarrhea medicine can make things worse. As bad as the diarrhea is, it’s working to flush out the bacteria from your system. Medications to stop that will only delay and make things worse.