E. coli infection can affect both the young and old. But children are much more likely to get an infection compared to adults because children are less careful with the things they put in their mouth. Most children also tend to eat with their hands or put their hands in their mouths in spite of them being dirty. And since their immune system is not as strong as those of an adult, children are much more susceptible to infections. And the way to know whether or not a child is infected with E. coli is through the symptoms. So, what are the E. coli symptoms in children?
What is E. coli?
E. coli, or Escherichia coli, is a bacteria. It is a major component of a healthy stool. There are many different strains of these particular bacteria. Most strains are harmless to humans. Most don’t pose any threat to humans. But some strains can be very deadly, like E. coli O157:H7. There are certain strains that could lead to illnesses. There are also strains that can be dangerous when they get somewhere they shouldn’t be.
E. coli is a major cause of diarrhea with varying severity. It is also a cause of a urinary tract infection.
What is an E. coli infection?
An E. coli infection is when a dangerous strain of E. coli has entered your system. It may also be when a potentially harmless strain enters the other parts of your body. Another is when there is an excessive amount of bacteria in your body. And the symptoms of an E. coli infection depends on the type of infection and on the strain that caused the infection.
One of the major problems caused by an E. coli infection is food poisoning. The E. coli O157:H7 strain can cause a severe case of food poisoning. And in babies and young children, this E. coli strain can be life-threatening.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection in children
The symptoms of an E. coli infection may vary depending on the location and the strain of the E. coli. But most children with E. coli infection show the following symptoms:
• Severe abdominal cramps and stomach tenderness
• Diarrhea (watery at firsts but often becomes bloody)
• Nausea and vomiting
Symptoms start around 7 days after you contacted the bacteria. The first sign of an E. coli infection is the abdominal cramps. This starts suddenly. And after a few hours, watery diarrhea begins and lasts for about a day. Then the stools become bright red and bloody because the infection causes sores in the intestines. This bloody diarrhea can be observed for 2 to 5 days with 10 or more bowel movements each day. Some may only be excreting blood at times and no actual stool. There are also cases wherein there is no bloody diarrhea. An E. coli infection may also be accompanied by a fever sometimes.
An E. coli infection in the urinary tract causes typical symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI). These symptoms may include burning when urinating, increased urination, and fever.
E. coli infection in newborn babies may start subtly. Babies may develop poor feeding, irritability, pausing in breathing, a temperature that is either too high or too low, and excessive sleepiness. Some babies also vomit and have diarrhea and/or swollen bellies.
Complications of E. coli
E. coli infection can lead to worse health problems if not treated accordingly. One of the worries in all cases of diarrhea and vomiting is dehydration. Dehydration can be life-threatening if the patient is not properly rehydrated in time.
Another complication that may arise is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is characterized by anemia, low platelet count, bloody stool and urine, and kidney failure. This is more common among children. The problem starts around 5 to 10 days after the diarrhea starts.
>How to prevent the spread of E. coli
E. coli can be very contagious. It can spread from one person to another by the fecal-oral route. And this is why it is important to wash your hands always after using the bathroom and changing your baby’s diapers. And to avoid contacting the bacteria from other people, always wash your hands before preparing your food and eating.