E. Coli
E. coli

E. coli: Definition, Causes, 5 Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is an E. Coli bacterial infection?

Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacterial infection is an infection that can occur due to water or food contaminated with the bacteria, especially raw vegetables and immature meat.

E. Coli bacteria are actually bacteria that usually live in the intestines of humans and animals.

Although most types of Escherichia coli are harmless or cause only mild diarrhea, certain types can cause serious intestinal infections that result in diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.

Healthy older persons usually recover from the E. coli O157:H7 bacterial infection within a week.

However, children and the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, have a higher risk of having a life-threatening renal failure, otherwise known as hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Many cases of E. coli bacterial infection can be treated at home.

Causes of Escherichia Coli Bacterial Infection

The presence of E. Coli bacteria in the human body are natural, because these bacteria also play a role in maintaining the health of the gastrointestinal tract. However, there are several types of E. coli bacteria that are precisely harmful to human health, namely:

  • Shiga toxin-producing coli or STEC/VTEC/EHEC
  • Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC).
  • Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC).
  • Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC).
  • Enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC).
  • Diffusely adherent E. coli (DAEC).

Most diarrhea is caused by STEC-type bacteria. These bacteria produce toxins that can damage the lining of the small intestine, which can cause bloody stools. In general, harmful E. coli bacteria can enter the human body through:

Contaminated food and beverages

Harmful E. coli bacteria are highly contagious because a person consumes contaminated food and beverages.

Direct contact with E. coli bacteria

Forgetting to wash your hands after handling an animal or after defecation, then making contact with others, can transmit the bacteria.

Risk factors for E. coli infection

Although anyone can have an E. coli infection, some people are more at risk than others.

Some risk factors for E. Coli infection includes:


Older groups and young children are more likely to experience serious complications from E. coli

Weakened immune system

People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to E. coli infection


E. coli infections are more likely to occur during the summer months for unknown reasons

Low stomach acid levels

Drugs used to lower stomach acid levels may increase the risk of E. coli infection

Certain foods

Drinking unpasteurized milk or juice and eating undercooked meat can increase the risk of E. coli

E. coli symptoms

Symptoms of E. coli bacterial infection appear three to four days after the body is exposed to the bacteria. But the pain will appear one day to one week after. Symptoms of E. coli bacterial infection are:

  • Stomach cramps.
  • Diarrhea, with a mild to severe severity, and even bleeding.
  • Lost appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Fatigue.

Some E. coli bacterial infections can be dangerous and cause complications. But generally these complications are more common in children. The most serious and fatal complication of an E. Coli bacterial infection is a uremic hemolytic syndrome, which is a condition where red blood cells become damaged and can result in kidney failure.

E. coli Diagnosis

To find out if a person has an E. coli bacteria or not in his body, it takes complete information from that person. In addition, the need for a thorough physical examination will help determine the diagnosis.

Laboratory tests of body samples (e.g. Feces) to assess the presence of pathogenic E. coli can also be performed.

E. Coli Treatment

Treatment in people who have E. coli bacteria in their body, usually directed towards the prevention of fluid deficiency due to dehydration. Most people do not require hospitalization when experiencing this disorder. Drinking plenty of fluids is highly recommended in those with diarrhea.

Administration of antibiotics is generally not recommended. The use of antidiarrheal drugs is also not recommended because it prolongs exposure to toxins in digestion.

Last Updated on August 5, 2021 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team