What are acute intestinal infections and how to protect yourself from them

What Are Acute Intestinal Infections?

Acute intestinal infections or acute gastroenteritis are inflammatory processes of the stomach and small intestine that have similar symptoms – vomiting, diarrhea, intoxication and sometimes dehydration, but are caused by different microorganisms. Pathogens enter the intestine and attach to its cells. In addition, they either penetrate deeper into the wall and cause inflammation, or produce toxins that poison the body.

Intestinal infections are very common. But it is difficult to collect statistics for them, because many people are hospitalized at home and do not reach doctors. There are indications that one in six people in the United States becomes infected with gastroenteritis each year. And in 2015, more than 2 billion cases of acute intestinal infections were diagnosed worldwide, more than 1.3 million people died from them.

What causes acute intestinal infections

As we have said, a variety of microorganisms can cause symptoms. To determine the cause, there are special blood and stool tests. But they are needed only in severe cases.


50 to 70% of intestinal infections are caused by viruses. Most often they are:

  • normal virus?
  • Ροταϊός;
  • calyx virus?
  • adenovirus?
  • parvovirus?
  • astro virus?
  • coronavirus?
  • pest virus;
  • τοραϊός.


10-15% of gastroenteritis is caused by protozoa. Usually this:

  • Lamps;
  • intestinal amoeba;
  • cryptosporidium;
  • cyclospores.


15-20% of gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria, for example:

  • salmonella;
  • shigella;
  • clostridia?
  • jersinia;
  • cholera vibrio;
  • coli;
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Unlike viruses and protozoa, bacteria that enter the body can not only penetrate the intestinal wall and cause inflammation, but also release toxins. And not just inside a person, but outside of him. For example, clostridia and staphylococci produce toxic substances in food. Such food can cause vomiting and diarrhea, even if the bacteria themselves do not enter the body. The disease will be called a toxic infection and, unlike acute intestinal infections, it will pass in a few hours.

What are the symptoms of acute intestinal infections?

Despite the difference in causes, the main signs for all acute intestinal infections are the same. This is:

  • motion sickness;
  • vomit;
  • diarrhea;
  • Inflation
  • painful spasms and urge to empty the bowels – tension.
  • loss of appetite;
  • lethargy and weakness;
  • increase in temperature;
  • sometimes blood and pus in the stool.

Can an acute intestinal infection be life threatening?

Usually the symptoms go away on their own and do not cause complications. But in children, the elderly and immunocompromised people, gastroenteritis is particularly serious. Severe dehydration leads to hospitalization and even death.

In addition, Salmonella, Yersinia and Campylobacter can invade the intestinal wall, damage blood vessels, enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis. This terrible complication can also lead to death.

What to do if you suspect an acute intestinal infection

Sometimes the symptoms go away on their own in a few hours and do not require a visit to the doctor. If the condition is not well tolerated, you can call the clinic and call a therapist.

You can not do without emergency medical care if:

  • black stools or streaks of blood.
  • temperature above 39 degrees.
  • stomach and intestines hurt a lot.
  • there are signs of dehydration – intense thirst, dry mouth, dark urine, reduced or absent volume, weakness, dizziness, fainting.
  • Diarrhea lasts more than two days in an adult or more than 24 hours in a child.

How to deal with an acute intestinal infection

As we have already said, intestinal infections often go away without treatment: it is enough to compensate for the loss of water and salts and also to give a break in the gastrointestinal tract. If necessary, your doctor may prescribe antipathogenic or symptomatic medications.

Replenish lost fluids

Regardless of the cause of gastroenteritis, you need to help your body cope with the threat of dehydration.

Drinking water is not the best choice, because, in addition to liquid, the body loses sodium, potassium and other ions. Juices are also not suitable: they irritate the digestive system and worsen diarrhea. It is best to drink electrolyte solutions (rehydrantants) from a pharmacy or broths. If it is not possible to make up for the loss with a drink, your doctor will prescribe a dropper.

Follow a healthy diet

For the first few hours, give up solid food. As you get better, you can start eating crackers, water cereals, pasta, rice and bananas. Until recovery, you can not eat fatty and spicy foods, drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

Remove toxins

Toxins are excreted on their own with vomiting and diarrhea. Enterophoresis can help with this and get rid of the symptoms faster. Therefore, they are often consulted by home doctors. It is true that their foreign colleagues do not include sorbents in their recommendations.

Fight the pathogen

Depending on the cause of the gastroenteritis, antibiotics or antiparasitic drugs may be needed. The decision is made only by the doctor.

Relieve the symptoms

The Mayo Clinic Research Center recommends probiotics after prolonged diarrhea because they can improve gut health. Therefore, you can consider attending the course.

But it is better not to use antiemetic and anti-diarrheal drugs unless absolutely necessary and prescribed by a doctor. Vomiting and diarrhea are the body’s defense mechanisms against infections. So the body tries to get rid of the pathogen and its toxins. If you block this self-cleaning, the condition may get worse.

Rest of

Infection and dehydration weaken the body, so you need to give it a good rest and strengthen before recovery.

Do not trust the advice from the Internet

The common myth that baking soda prevents dehydration and relieves symptoms has been debunked in several studies.

Another controversial product is spicy instant noodles. Sounds crazy, but Internet users praise this method. But you should not use it: there are no studies on this subject, but it is certain that spices and fatty foods are contraindicated in intestinal infections.

How to avoid an acute intestinal infection

There are general precautions that must be followed at all times:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water. Pay attention to the cuticles, the space under the nails, the folds of the skin. It is especially important not to forget to wash after using the toilet, changing diapers and before preparing food.
  • Use disinfectant gels, sprays, wipes if you can not wash your hands.
  • If you have recently had a baby, get vaccinated against rotavirus.

At home and when traveling, you need to take extra precautions.


  • Do not share towels.
  • Do not eat at the same time with one of the same dishes or cutlery.
  • Wash vegetables and fruits before eating.
  • Do not forget to wash your kitchen surfaces.
  • Disinfect all surfaces if there are sick people in the house. For example, special antiseptic solutions.
  • Do not cook for everyone if you feel sick.
  • Keep your distance if you or your family members suspect infection.


  • Drink only from closed bottles.
  • Rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth with bottled water only.
  • Do not add ice to beverages as it can be made from contaminated water.
  • Avoid raw foods, including peeled fruits, salads and raw vegetables that have been touched by others.
  • Do not eat meat and fish that have not been fully cooked. For example, uncooked steaks, sushi, tartar and stroganina.

Source: @ miridei.com

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