Most people don't seek medical attention for E. coli infections. If your symptoms are particularly severe, you may want to visit your primary care doctor or seek immediate care.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent life changes or international travel.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
For E. coli, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- Will there be any lasting effects from this illness?
- How can I prevent this from happening again?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- How often are you having diarrhea?
- Are you vomiting? If so, how often?
- Does your vomit or diarrhea contain bile, mucus or blood?
- Have you had a fever? If so, how high?
- Are you also having abdominal cramps?
- Have you recently traveled outside the country?
- Does anyone else in your household have the same symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
If you or your child has an E. coli infection, it may be tempting to use an anti-diarrheal medication, but don't. Diarrhea is one way the body rids itself of toxins. Preventing diarrhea slows that process down.
Take small sips of fluid as tolerated to try to stay hydrated.
Aug. 01, 2014
- E. coli (Escherichia coli). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/general/index.html. Accessed June 10, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed June 10, 2014.
- Calderwood SB. Microbiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology and prevention of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC). http://www.uptodate.com/home/. Accessed June 10, 2014.
- Ryan KJ, et al., eds. Sherris Medical Microbiology. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=375&Sectionid=40299161. Accessed June 10, 2014.
- Basic information about E. coli O157:H7 in drinking water. Environmental Protection Agency. http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/ecoli.cfm. Accessed June10, 2014.
- Bain R, et al. Global assessment of exposure to faecal contamination through drinking water based on a systematic review. Tropical Medicine and International Health. In press. Accessed June 10, 2014.
- Calderwood SB. Clinical manifestations, diagnosis and treatment of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 10, 2014.
- What I need to know about diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diarrhea_ez/index.aspx. Accessed June 10, 2014.