April 1, 2024

E. Coli Recovery Diet

E. coli, which stands for Escherichia coli, is a type of bacteria naturally found throughout the environment, including in our intestines and some foods. However, many strains of E. coli are incredibly harmful and will make you sick if you ingest them.

People often become infected with E. coli and suffer serious gastrointestinal symptoms and other conditions by eating food improperly handled or cooked. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the E. coli bacteria causes healthy cells to release potent toxins that cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and more.

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  • There is no medical treatment for E. coli; hydration and rest are primary recommendations for recovery.
  • A diet consisting of bland, easy-to-digest foods like toast and bananas is advised to aid recovery from E. coli infection.
  • Foods high in sugar, fat, and dairy should be avoided as they can worsen symptoms.
  • Gradual reintroduction of solid foods, starting with the BRAT diet, is suggested as symptoms improve.
  • Recovery time varies, but most people improve within one to two weeks, though some may have long-term health effects.

If you or someone you know becomes ill with E. coli, you’re likely wondering how long it takes to feel better and if there’s anything you can do to aid recovery. Fortunately, you can use an E. coli recovery diet to help you stay hydrated and support your body while fighting the infection.

How To Treat E. Coli

While some things may help ease the intensity of your E. coli symptoms, there is currently no medical treatment for E. coli infections. The Mayo Clinic says most people sickened by E. coli will benefit from rest and fluids to combat dehydration and fatigue.

Additionally, in extreme cases, your doctor may suggest other ways to treat E. coli effects, including:

However, rehydrating with oral fluids, avoiding certain foods, and eating when you can are often enough to reduce symptoms and help you recover as soon as possible.

Can You Treat E. Coli With Antibiotics?

According to the National Library of Medicine, antibiotics are not recommended as the first line of treatment for diarrheal E. coli infections, especially in children and older adults. The side effects of antibiotics on the digestive system and the bacteria’s ability to develop a resistance to antibiotics make such treatment less effective or even harmful.

A doctor may try antibiotic treatment only when the patient’s illness and symptoms are severe, including:

List of Foods To Eat When Sick With E. Coli

Eating can be difficult when you’re sick with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli or other diarrheal E. coli. An upset stomach, nausea, cramping, and general appetite loss often make food the last thing on your mind. However, fueling your body with nutrients and proper hydration is vital to recovery.

Bland foods that are easy to digest and keep down are typically recommended for E. coli infections. Here are some foods you may consider eating when experiencing diarrhea caused by E. coli:

As part of your E. coli recovery diet, eat and drink daily to prevent dehydration and other complications. As you begin to feel better, stick to bland foods and slowly ease into your usual diet. Consult a health care professional if you cannot keep any of these foods down or are unsure what to eat while you are ill.

Foods To Avoid When Sick With E. Coli

As you recover from an E. coli infection, you’ll want to avoid foods and beverages that could further upset your stomach and worsen diarrhea. Anything high in sugar, fiber, fat, or artificial additives can irritate your sensitive digestive system and prolong your symptoms.

The types of foods to avoid if you’re sick with diarrheal E. coli include:

If you have questions about what you cannot eat while recovering from an E. coli infection, contact your doctor or a medical practitioner for guidance.

How To Introduce Solid Foods

As your E. coli symptoms improve and you start to feel better, it’s important to reintroduce solid foods into your diet. Many health care practitioners suggest starting with the BRAT diet, consisting of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This will get some nutrients into your system. However, your doctor or nutritionist also may recommend other foods as an initial step toward full recovery.

First, try smaller portions of these bland foods to see if your digestive system will tolerate them. Then, you can proceed to bigger portions and other foods that are still easy to digest. As you gain strength and your stomach settles, your body may be ready for more substantial meals.

While food is essential to recovery from an E. coli infection, prioritizing hydration is key. Diarrhea often leads to dehydration, which can cause a different set of symptoms that worsen your condition. As you introduce solid foods into your diet after being ill, remember to drink water and other clear fluids along with the food.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From E. Coli?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms and whether you develop other issues, most people will fully recover from an E. coli infection within one to two weeks. Young children, older adults, and individuals with prior health conditions could take longer to recover and may require medical intervention to avoid negative outcomes.

Long-Term Dietary Effects of E. Coli

Studies have shown some long-term health risks are associated with E. coli infections. People who contracted gastroenteritis from contaminated drinking water have an increased risk of developing the following conditions later in life:

Additionally, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that the toxin produced by E. coli bacteria can lead to changes in intestinal cells in the gut. The findings connect recurrent diarrhea episodes with long-term nutritional problems that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. However, more research is needed to understand this connection fully.

When To See a Doctor for E. Coli

Although most people will recover from an E. coli infection on their own with hydration and rest, others require medical intervention to help them recover. You may need to go to the emergency room if you or a loved one are experiencing the following:

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

An E. coli infection can also cause other serious conditions, including hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS. The first symptoms of HUS are diarrhea, stomach cramping, vomiting, and fever. However, as the condition progresses, HUS can cause blood vessel damage, anemia, blood clots, and kidney damage.

Seek emergency or urgent care if you or your family member has had diarrhea for several days followed by these HUS symptoms:

Negligent Food Handling and E. Coli Infections

If you suspect you contracted an E. coli infection from negligent food handling or preparation, Keep Food Safe offers guidance and resources to help you seek justice. Contact us to learn more about your rights or to connect with an E. coli lawsuit attorney today.

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