What is a Bowel Infection?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
The human digestive tract, including the bowels.
The human digestive tract, including the bowels.

A bowel infection is an illness caused by pathogens that invade a person’s digestive tract. The bowel, also called the large intestine, is the lower part of a person’s digestive tract. It is home to many types of bacteria that do not cause infection. Sometimes, however, harmful bacteria may be present in high enough numbers to cause illness. Likewise, viruses and other pathogens can cause infection as well.

Stool samples that are collected at home are usually placed into plastic containers.
Stool samples that are collected at home are usually placed into plastic containers.

When a person has a bowel infection, he may experience rather unpleasant symptoms. For example, a person with this type of infection may develop diarrhea, which are loose, watery stools. In some cases, the bowel movements aren’t loose, but become hard and difficult to move instead. A person may also develop strange-looking bowel movements as a result of a bowel infection. For example, they may be an unusual shape or color.

A person may experience bloating and gas along with a bowel infection.
A person may experience bloating and gas along with a bowel infection.

Besides symptoms that involve the appearance and consistency of a person’s bowel movements, an infection may also be marked by a certain amount of discomfort. For example, a person may experience bloating and gas along with this type of infection. His abdomen may be distended, and he may have an overall feeling of being unwell. In some cases, a bowel infection is also accompanied by fever or bleeding from the rectum.

An untreated bowel infection may lead to dehydration.
An untreated bowel infection may lead to dehydration.

Sometimes an infection in the bowel can develop as a symptom or effect of a digestive-tract-related disorder. In fact, this type of infection may even contribute to the development of bowel disorders. For example, a person may develop an infection in the bowel that triggers the immune system to try to destroy the pathogen that caused it. This immune system attack may cause inflammation in the bowel that leads to ulcerative colitis, which is marked by pain, diarrhea, and a full range of other symptoms.

The treatment for a bowel infection may include antibiotics and high fluid intake.
The treatment for a bowel infection may include antibiotics and high fluid intake.

Diagnosing a bowel infection can be unpleasant for the affected person. Often, a doctor requests a stool sample in order to be sure of the origins of the infection. In fact, he may require multiple stool samples in order to provide an accurate diagnosis. For example, a doctor may ask his patient to collect a sample over three different days, transporting them to the medical office or a lab for evaluation. The stool is then checked for the presence of illness-causing microorganisms.

Once a doctor has determined the cause of the infection, he can treat it accordingly. This may involve antibiotics or rest and fluids, depending on the severity of the infection and its cause. In some cases, laxatives are prescribed as well.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a InfoBloom writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a InfoBloom writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

croydon

@anon171693 - Unfortunately I don't think there are any real tests for IBS, as it is basically the diagnosis that is given out when there is no other apparent cause to a person's distress.

Likewise, there isn't really a treatment for it, like there is with bowel infections of various kinds. You just have to experiment with what works for you and try to stick to a healthy diet within those constraints.

lluviaporos

@anon291285 - That could be any number of things, like irritable bowel syndrome, or even cancer of the bowel. It might even just be that you've become allergic to one of the foods you're eating. People often have problems similar to yours if they are, for example, eating too much artificial sweetener.

However, if you're having bowel movements like that, it's fairly serious, particularly if it has continued for a while and you need to see a doctor about it. Don't just think about it as something you have to live with. There is something wrong and a doctor can help you figure out what it is and correct it.

You should also make sure you are getting plenty of fluids and vitamins as a condition like that can tend to deplete your body. Good luck!

anon291285

I am a 76 year old male who has type 2 diabetes and for the last year my bowels have been giving me trouble.

The symptoms are I am very gassy, have some bloating and have very runny stool to the point it's like water and hard to control my bowel movements.

anon213353

I have gas, unstable bowels, frequent urination, weight loss, a runny nose, fever, chills, chewing ice, lower back pain, frequent cramps in legs, general health not good, affecting mentally, depressed, no energy, unstable, memory not good.

anon177849

My symptoms are diarrhea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Help!

anon171693

I think that i have a bowel infection, but am not sure. My signs are bloating, diarrhea, pain in my side, back and front. A few years ago i was told i had IBS, but was never tested. Help.

closerfan12

Can yeast cause a bowel infection? I had heard of something called a yeast infection of the bowel, but wasn't sure if this actually existed.

Anybody know?

pharmchick78

A common, though slightly more disgusting, one of the bowel infection causes is parasites.

The parasites that most commonly cause an infection in the bowel are roundworms (especially pinworms) and tapeworms.

The symptoms of a bowel infection caused by parasites are pretty similar to those caused by bacteria, only in the case of parasites weight loss may also occur.

Although most of the time a parasitic infection may not be serious enough to cause symptoms, if it does become serious and goes untreated, serious consequences can occur.

EarlyForest

Although diarrhea and bloating are the most common bowel infection symptoms, there are several others.

Additional symptoms of bowel infection include particularly dark or particularly light stools are signs of a bowel infection. In the case of a particularly dark or tar-like stool, it may be a sign of blood in the GI tract, and should be checked out immediately, as it can be a sign of a serious condition.

Besides the stool abnormalities, people with bowel infections may feel weak and fatigued.

Any bowel infection should be a cause of concern, and if you suspect you have an infection of the bowel, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

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    • The human digestive tract, including the bowels.
      By: AlienCat
      The human digestive tract, including the bowels.
    • Stool samples that are collected at home are usually placed into plastic containers.
      By: luchschen_shutter
      Stool samples that are collected at home are usually placed into plastic containers.
    • A person may experience bloating and gas along with a bowel infection.
      By: michaeljung
      A person may experience bloating and gas along with a bowel infection.
    • An untreated bowel infection may lead to dehydration.
      By: koszivu
      An untreated bowel infection may lead to dehydration.
    • The treatment for a bowel infection may include antibiotics and high fluid intake.
      By: Alliance
      The treatment for a bowel infection may include antibiotics and high fluid intake.