E. Coli (Escherichia Coli) in Pregnancy

E. Coli (Escherichia Coli) in Pregnancy

E. coli is an infection that is generally caused by a dirty environment. Though the symptoms of this infection usually pass within a week, it is still pretty terrible while you are suffering from it.

What is an E. coli Infection

E. coli or Escherichia coli is a bacterium that can be found naturally in your vagina and gut. It is generally harmless, but the problem arises when the bacterium makes its way to places such as your kidneys or stomach. There are various strains of E. coli bacterium, out of which a few of them are known to be dangerous. These types of E. coli may lead to infections and other issues during pregnancy.

What Are the Various Sources of E. coli

While some types of E. coli are naturally present in your body, there are others which enter your body through different mediums. Some of the sources of E. coli are listed below:

  • Unwashed vegetables and fruits
  • Uncooked meat
  • Human or animal faeces
  • Non-purified or contaminated tap-water, especially if it comes in contact with agricultural or sewage water.
  • Water in swimming pools which has not been cleaned or treated with chlorine
  • Unpasteurized fruit juices
  • Unpasteurized milk

E. coli can also be transferred by touch. If an individual having E. coli bacteria in their hand touches you, there is a strong likelihood of you getting infected.

Symptoms of Escherichia coli Infection during Pregnancy

Some of the symptoms of Escherichia coli infection during pregnancy are as follows:

1. Nausea

It is the most common symptom of E. coli infection: a groggy feeling in the stomach or a bad feeling in the back portion of the throat.

2. Abdominal Cramps

It becomes really difficult for a pregnant woman to bear any kind of pain perceived in the abdominal region during pregnancy.

3. Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a state in which faecal matter is frequently discharged in a liquid state. You may have mild watery stools diarrhoea or severe bloody ones.

4. Vomiting

It is the dismissal of the innards of the stomach through the mouth. You might feel nauseous before vomiting.

Pregnant woman vomiting

5. Fatigue

Fatigues is simply a feeling of extreme tiredness that can be a result of physical exertion, mental exertion or illness.

6. Dehydration

Dehydration means excessive loss of water from the body. Dehydration can be caused by the diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that cause diarrhoea or vomiting.

7. Gas

The human body produces gas naturally as a result of digestion. Sometimes, it produces even more gas if you consume certain fibre-rich foods. It is probably a normal amount even if you think that you are suffering from excessive gas. Infection caused by the E. coli bacteria affects your GIT, thus producing more gas.

8. Blood in Urine

Blood starts to appear in your urine if the infection is not diagnosed on time.

9. Fever

It is said that you have a fever if your body temperature is above the normal range of 98.6 F. In general practice, a person is not usually considered to have a high fever until the body temperature rises above 100.4 F.

Pregnant woman has a fever

10. Pale Skin

Pale skin or paleness is an unusual lightness of the colour of the skin compared to your normal complexion of the skin. It may have been caused by a decrease in the number of red blood cells or reduction in oxygen and blood flow. It is also known as pallor or pale complexion.

11. Skin Bruising

The bruise is an injury or mark where the skin has not been cracked but is darker in colour.

Does E. coli Affect Pregnancy

E. coli infection in a pregnant woman can affect your pregnancy by increasing various complications:

  • E. coli can cause diarrhoea which results in loss of body fluids leading to dehydration. This can lead to issues like neural tube defects and low amniotic fluid.
  • In some rare cases, the pregnant woman may start to bleed heavily. Thus, there might be a chance of preterm rupture of membranes, miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth in case of severe E. coli infection.
  • It is also reported that E. coli infection can cause low birth weight.

How to Treat an E. coli Infection During Pregnancy

Pregnant women can take up a course of antibiotics to treat E. coli infection. You should ensure that the antibiotic is safe for the foetus and the mother. Some antibiotics that can be taken for treating E. coli infection are Nitrofurantoin and Cephalosporins. Most healthy people recover from E. coli within a couple of days without taking any kind of medication.

Note: You should take antibiotics only after getting a prescription from a medical professional.

How Can You Prevent an Escherichia coli Infection in Pregnancy

To avoid E. coli bacteria during pregnancy:

  • Make sure you clean your hands with a disinfectant after touching raw meat.
  • Always wash your hands with soap after using or cleaning the toilet, handling linens or dirty towels, changing diapers and touching animals. This is because E. coli is found in urine and faecal matter.
  • Make sure you cook the meat properly.
  • You should clean any surface that touches raw meat with a bleach or disinfectant.
  • Drink only pasteurized milk, ciders and juice.
  • Put all fruits and vegetables in a container of salted water before consuming.
  • You should avoid swimming as the water may be contaminated.

If you think that you might have E. coli infection, consult your health care provider at the earliest. It can be easily treated if it is diagnosed on time. One of the best ways to prevent E. coli infection is to ensure that you have a clean surrounding and try to eat properly cooked meals.

Also Read: Food Poisoning during Pregnancy