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Infectious Colitis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Infectious colitis is swelling and irritation of your colon caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You are urinating less than normal or not at all.
  • You have a headache, dizziness, or confusion.
  • You have irregular or fast breathing or a fast or pounding heartbeat.
  • You suddenly lose weight without trying.

Call your doctor if:

  • You are more tired than usual or weak.
  • Your symptoms last for more than 30 days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

  • Medicines may be given to treat the bacteria, virus, or parasite that is causing your infectious colitis.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Self-care:

  • Drink liquids to help prevent dehydration. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS). An ORS contains a balance of water, salt, and sugar to replace body fluids lost during diarrhea. Ask what kind of ORS to use, how much to drink, and where to get it.
  • Do not take medicine to stop your diarrhea. These medicines may make your symptoms last longer.

Prevent infectious colitis:

  • Clean food and utensils thoroughly. Rinse fruits and vegetables in running water. Clean cutting boards, knives, countertops, and other areas where you prepare food before and after you cook. Wash sponges and dishtowels weekly in hot water.
  • Keep cooked and raw foods separate in your grocery cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator. This prevents cross contamination. Cross contamination is when germs from one food spread to another food. This happens when juices from raw meat, fish, and eggs get on cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Use a separate cutting board for raw foods. Never put cooked food on an unwashed plate that had raw meat, seafood, or eggs on it.
  • Cook meat as directed.
    • Cook ground meat to 160°F.
    • Cook ground poultry, whole poultry, or cuts of poultry to at least 165°F. Remove the meat from heat. Let it stand for 3 minutes before you eat it.
    • Cook whole cuts of meat other than poultry to at least 145°F. Remove the meat from heat. Let it stand for 3 minutes before you eat it.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked oysters, clams, or mussels. These foods may be contaminated and cause infection.
  • Refrigerate food immediately. This will help slow down the growth of germs. Your refrigerator should be at 40°F or below to keep foods safe. Put meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood in the refrigerator or freezer within 2 hours after cooking or buying them. Always thaw food in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. Do not thaw food on your countertop.
  • Drink safe water. Drink only treated water. Do not drink water from ponds or lakes, or swimming pools. Drink bottled water when traveling.

Prevent the spread of germs:


  • Wash your hands often. Wash your hands several times each day. Wash after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food. Use soap and water every time. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Wash the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the fingernails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
    Handwashing
  • Cover a sneeze or cough. Use a tissue that covers your mouth and nose. Throw the tissue away in a trash can right away. Use the bend of your arm if a tissue is not available. Wash your hands well with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer.
  • Stay away from others while you are sick. Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Ask about vaccines you may need. Talk to your healthcare provider about your vaccine history. He or she will tell you which vaccines you need, and when to get them.
    • Get the influenza (flu) vaccine as soon as recommended each year. The flu vaccine is available starting in September or October. Flu viruses change, so it is important to get a flu vaccine every year.
    • Get the pneumonia vaccine if recommended. This vaccine is usually recommended every 5 years. Your provider will tell you when to get this vaccine, if needed.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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