Infection of the bowels is a common problem that can arise from a virus, bacteria or a multitude of disorders. Any change in frequency or appearance of bowel movements can signal an infection or other bowel problem. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise can contribute to bowel problems, including making them more susceptible to infection. Although most bowel infections don't last long, they can signal an underlying problem that needs to be defined and treated.
There can be many symptoms associated with bowel infection. Some are related to bowel movements such as loose stools (diarrhea), constipation or unusual-looking bowel movements. Along with these specific symptoms can be bloating, gas and abdominal distention and pain. Rectal bleeding can also be an indication of bowel infection. Sufferers may feel weak and generally unwell.
Mechanism of Infection
There are beneficial and harmful bacteria present in the digestive system. As long as these bacteria are in balance, everything is fine. If, however, the harmful bacteria manage to become too numerous, they can overtake the beneficial bacteria. Infection can set in the bowels, causing numerous uncomfortable symptoms. Viral infections can also occur in the bowels, causing many of the same symptoms. It's important for a physician to determine whether a bacterial infection or viral infection has occurred and whether the bowel infection is connected to a particular health condition.
Aside from general bacterial and viral infections, there are many bowel-affecting diseases that can be indicated by an infection. Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis are often causes of bowel problems. Some very serious diseases that affect the bowel are Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease and colon cancer. Although some of these problems can be adequately treated with good nutrition and exercise, many of them require professional medical treatment.
Proper treatment depends on the symptoms exhibited and the underlying cause of infection. Antibiotics are generally prescribed in the case of a bacterial infection. A short-term regimen of laxatives may also be advised. When diagnosing bowel disorders, a physician usually takes a medical history and performs a physical exam before deciding whether blood or stool tests are performed. In certain cases, a colonoscopy and/or barium enema may be needed to determine why the person is experiencing bowel infection symptoms. Based on the findings, the physician can decide which treatments are appropriate. Among these may be surgeries in which damaged portions of the bowel are removed.
Lifestyle changes are often required to help prevent bowel infections and associated stomach problems. In general, good nutrition is a key to digestive health. To keep the digestive system running smoothly, it may be necessary to add additional fiber to your diet. The best way is by ingesting fibrous foods such as whole grains, beans, green vegetables and fresh fruits. There are also fiber supplements you can buy that are powdered or in tablet form. You should also drink plenty of fluid each day to keep bowel movements soft and regular. Frequent exercise is also beneficial in keeping your digestive system working properly. Invest in your overall health by staying active, reducing your stress level and getting regular sleep and rest to help combat bowel problems as well.