Acute Intestinal Infections: Symptoms, Types and Treatment

Posted On Nov 27, 2022

Dr. Vipin Kumar Jain

Consultant - Internal Medicine

Manipal Hospitals - Jaipur

internal medicine expert in Jaipur

Our intestinal tract includes the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum. It contains trillions of good and bad bacteria. Bacteria usually live in our intestines in a healthy balance. If this balance is upset—due to an infection or disease—it can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, or even blood in your stool.

Acute Intestinal Infections are on the rise during the monsoons as the microorganisms get a conducive environment during the rainy season and contamination increases due to humidity and water spread. Book a consultation with expert gastroenterologists in Jaipur at Manipal Hospitals for gastroenteritis treatment in Jaipur. 

Understanding Acute Intestinal Infections

Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi cause intestinal infections. They can affect the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines.

Intestinal infections are common in children and adults. Eating contaminated food articles is one of the most common causes of acute intestinal infection, also known as food poisoning.

Intestinal infections can be acute or chronic. 

  • Acute intestinal infections occur suddenly and last a short time when caused by viral infection goes by its own. If you have an acute infection by bacteria, you might feel sick for several hours or days & requires treatment with specific antibiotics with fluid replacement.

  • Chronic intestinal infections last longer than two weeks & are a matter of investigation by a physician or gastroenterologist.

Causes of Acute Intestinal Infections

There are many causes of acute intestinal infections, including food poisoning and diarrhea. 

  • Consumption of contaminated foods or beverages causes food poisoning. Symptoms include the sudden onset of vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain. 

  • Diarrhea occurs when your body loses too much water and salts in your stools (feces). It may cause abdominal cramps or pain to accompany it, may cause severe dehydration. 

  • Food allergies can result in life-threatening or systemic reactions from exposure to specific foods (e.g., peanuts). 

  • Food intolerances are adverse reactions that may be milder than allergies but occur with repeated exposure to a particular substance (e.g., lactose intolerance due to a deficiency in lactase enzyme production). 

  • Infections through contaminated food products

  • Salmonella enteritis often spreads through contaminated food products.

  • Norovirus infection manifests itself as vomiting along with diarrhea.

  • Campylobacter infection spreads by eating undercooked poultry or contaminated water.

  • E Coli 0157:H7 causes bloody diarrhea after ingestion of undercooked ground beef patties. 

  • Parasitic worms cause severe abdominal pain due to the blockage of their eggs in the small intestine after being consumed through raw fish, vegetables, etc.

  • Giardia lamblia parasite often causes persistent diarrhea due to its ability for reinfection even after treatment using antibiotics.

  • Entamoeba Histolytica – Amoebiasis 

Symptoms of Acute Intestinal Infections

It's important to note that while some of these symptoms will be common, they may not all be present in every case. Some common symptoms are:

  • Nauseousness

  • Vomiting

  • Fever

  • Loss of hunger

  • Muscle pains (Abdominal Muscle)

  • Dehydration

  • Headache

  • Mucus or blood in the stool

Diagnosis of Acute Intestinal Infections

Diagnosis includes clinical examination, stool test and blood test.

  • Stool test

This helps to find out the type of infection. The various types of conditions based on the bacteria present in your stool are as follows:

  • Bacterial overgrowth syndrome - This is also known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). In this condition, excessive numbers of bacteria in your small intestine lead to malabsorption issues like diarrhea or constipation. To know more, visit our gastroenterology hospital in Jaipur.

  • Giardiasis - A parasite called Giardia lamblia lives in water and food contaminated with human excrement. Symptoms include diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain after you drink contaminated water or eat contaminated food.

  • Blood test

A complete blood count (CBC) to check for anaemia if you have blood loss due to dysentery or bloody stools.

Treatment of Acute Intestinal Infections

Internal medicine experts recommend treatment for intestinal infections depending on the patient's condition and type of infection. The treatment may include antibiotics or antibacterial medicines.

Practice Good Hygiene to Stay Prevented

You can reduce your intestinal infection risk by practicing good hygiene. The following practices can prevent infections:

  • Wash hands before and after eating. 

  • Wash hands after visiting the toilet. 

  • Wash hands after handling pets.

  • Wash hands after handling raw meat or animal products. 

  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them to reduce the risk of getting sick from bacteria on the outside of the produce (called cross-contamination).

  • Avoid the consumption of street food, especially during monsoons.

  • Carry packaged drinking water while travelling.

  • Consume well-cooked food during the monsoons.

Manipal Hospitals, Jaipur, has a dedicated internal medicine unit to handle acute intestinal infections and other conditions. Some world-class facilities include:

  • Geriatric Clinic 

  • HIV Education Clinic

  • Rheumatology Clinic 

  • Influenza Clinic 

  • Rehabilitation Clinic

  • Adult Vaccination Clinic 

  • Infection Control Clinic 

  • Diabetic Clinic

  • Preventive Medicine Clinic

Being a multispecialty hospital enables complete care for its patients. The Outpatient Department (OPD) regularly treats a considerable number of patients every day. If you are having symptoms of acute intestinal infections, book an appointment with us now.

Dr. Vipin Kumar Jain

Consultant - Internal Medicine

Manipal Hospitals, Jaipur