E Coli Symptoms and Treatment
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of E. coli infection vary for each person. Some people may not experience symptoms at all, and some may display mild symptoms. Others may have severe life-threatening symptoms. People with E. coli infection often start having the symptoms three to four days after consuming contaminated food.
The most common mild symptoms include:
- abdominal cramps
- diarrhea (some cases also have bloody diarrhea)
Most patients can also get a low-grade fever with a temperature of less than 38.5˚C. But it is important to note that some do not have a fever at all. Patients with mild symptoms can recover within a week, without hospitalization.
5-10% of those infected with E. coli may develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a dangerous condition where the infection travels in the bloodstream then destroys red blood cells. Children five years old and below, and patients with severe infection are most at risk.
Doctors consider HUS as a life-threatening illness because it can damage the kidneys. Symptoms of HUS include bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. And as the syndrome progresses, more symptoms may manifest, such as decreased amounts of urine with blood, fatigue, pale skin, fast heart rate, seizures, and kidney failure.
HUS may develop seven days after the occurrence of the first symptom of E. coli infection. Severe diarrhea within three days or longer is considered an emergency that needs immediate hospitalization to treat dehydration.