An infection of the intestines can occur when a bacteria, virus or parasite enter the tissues. Symptoms of these infections are often similar and include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and sometimes a fever. Other symptoms can occur but are specific to the infection, such as blood in the stools with a bacterial infection or the passing of worms with a parasitic infection. Treatment of the intestinal infection will depend on the infectious agent.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Bacterial Infection Treatment
A bacterial infection of the intestines can be caused by several strains of infectious agents, including E. coli, salmonella and shigella. These bacterium are typically introduced to the body when contaminated food is consumed. The National Institutes of Health explains that antibiotics are only prescribed when diarrhea is severe 1. Unless this is the case, an individual will only be advised to avoid solid foods until the diarrhea has passed and to drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is a potential complication of this type of infection and can require intravenous fluids in extreme cases.
- A bacterial infection of the intestines can be caused by several strains of infectious agents, including E. coli, salmonella and shigella.
- Dehydration is a potential complication of this type of infection and can require intravenous fluids in extreme cases.
Viral Infection Treatment
Medicines Used for Treating Diverticulitis
Viral intestinal infections, or viral gastroenteritis, are also caused by ingesting contaminated food or water 2. According to the Mayo Clinic, contact with an infected person can also help spread the virus. Some of the most common viruses responsible for gastroenteritis include rotavirus and norovirus 2. A specific treatment does not exist for viral intestinal infection. Patients will be advised to eat a bland diet of foods like bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast. These foods should only be introduced after the infection symptoms have stopped. Fluids and rest are important in recovering from such an infection.
- Viral intestinal infections, or viral gastroenteritis, are also caused by ingesting contaminated food or water 2.
- These foods should only be introduced after the infection symptoms have stopped.
Parasitic Infection Treatment
A parasitic infection of the intestines is caused by an organism, such as a worm, that infests the body and reproduces. Pinworms and tape worms are just two types of parasitic infection. Treatment consists of taking specific prescription medications that kill the parasites. Typically, these medications target the adult parasite, meaning the patient must continue taking medicine until a monthly stool sample is parasite free. Examples of such medications include albendazole, praziquantal and mebendazole. An entire household is often treated to prevent reinfection, even if all members do not show symptoms of an infection.
- A parasitic infection of the intestines is caused by an organism, such as a worm, that infests the body and reproduces.
- Typically, these medications target the adult parasite, meaning the patient must continue taking medicine until a monthly stool sample is parasite free.
Medicines Used for Treating Diverticulitis
How to Know If Pinworms Are Dead
Common Human Parasites
Symptoms of Human Intestinal Parasites
Over the Counter Treatment for Threadworms
Symptoms of Roundworms in People
What Are the Treatments for Mycoplasma Infections?
Cures for Staph Infections
Dosage of Amoxicillin to Cure Gonorrhea
How Long Does it Take for Amoxicilin to Work?
- National Institutes of Health: Bacterial Gastroenteritis
- Mayo Clinic: Viral Gastroenteritis
- Mayo Clinic: Pinworm Infection
- Mayo Clinic: Tapeworm Infection
- Balsalobre-Arenas L, Alarcón-Cavero T. Rapid diagnosis of gastrointestinal tract infections due to parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Diagnóstico rápido de las infecciones del tracto gastrointestinal por parásitos, virus y bacterias. Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin. 2017;35(6):367–376. doi:10.1016/j.eimc.2017.01.002
- Fletcher SM, McLaws ML, Ellis JT. Prevalence of gastrointestinal pathogens in developed and developing countries: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Public Health Res. 2013;2(1):42-53. doi:10.4081/jphr.2013.e9
- Robilotti E, Deresinski S, Pinsky BA. Norovirus. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2015;28(1):134-64. doi:10.1128/CMR.00075-14
- Facciolà A, Riso R, Avventuroso E, et al. Campylobacter: from microbiology to prevention. J Prev Med Hyg. 2017 Jun;58(2):E79-92.
- Huh JW, Moon SG, Lim YH. A survey of intestinal protozoan infections among gastroenteritis patients during a 3-year period (2004-2006) in Gyeonggi-do (province), South Korea. Korean J Parasitol. 2009;47(3):303-5. doi:10.3347/kjp.2009.47.3.303
Sarah Harding has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000. She has consulted in various settings and taught courses focused on psychology. Her work has been published by ParentDish, Atkins and other clients. Harding holds a Master of Science in psychology from Capella University and is completing several certificates through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.