What Are the Symptoms of a Bowel Infection?

Patti Kate

Symptoms of a bowel infection may vary from person to person, but one of the main ones is intestinal pain. Fever and chills may also be present with a bowel infection. Many patients may experience diarrhea and nausea with a bowel infection. Symptoms of a bowel infection in infants and toddlers may include irritability and fussiness as well.

Fever and chills may accompany a bowel infection.
Fever and chills may accompany a bowel infection.

A bowel infection is typically caused by a virus or bacteria in the intestinal tract. When a person develops a bowel infection, inflammation may cause cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. Rectal bleeding can also happen in cases of intestinal infection. Although there are several common symptoms of a bowel infection, some patients may only exhibit one or two symptoms.

Stress may make individuals susceptible to developing a bowel infection.
Stress may make individuals susceptible to developing a bowel infection.

When a person contracts an intestinal infection, he may experience loss of appetite. When a bowel infection causes diarrhea or vomiting, this can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration from a bowel infection are extreme thirst and dryness of the mouth. A headache that is present with an intestinal infection may also indicate signs of dehydration. It may be difficult to recognize the symptoms of dehydration in infants and young children, although decreased urination is generally an indication.

Intestinal pain is a common symptom of a bowel infection.
Intestinal pain is a common symptom of a bowel infection.

If a bowel infection lingers, weight loss may also occur. Although weight loss is not common symptom of a bowel infection in adults with bowel infections, it can be serious in infants and children. Any loss of weight in a child should be reported to a pediatrician for evaluation.

Bloating is one possible symptom of a bowel infection.
Bloating is one possible symptom of a bowel infection.

Bowel infections may occasionally be caused by a parasite. When this occurs, symptoms such as constipation and intestinal blockage may occur. When the intestines become blocked, toxic build up can make a person seriously ill. An intestinal blockage may lead to septicemia, which causes bacteria to circulate throughout the blood. Septicemia can damage the respiratory system and be life threatening if not treated promptly.

Some medical experts believe that certain factors can make some individuals more susceptible to contracting a bowel infection. For instance, stress may contribute to a weakened immune system, making a person more prone to illness. A large percentage of the immune system resides in the intestinal tract, which is why maintaining a healthy digestive system can help prevent bowel infections. Some medical experts also believe replenishing healthful bacteria in the digestive tract can prevent bowel infections. This can be accomplished by consuming foods that contain live cultures, or taking a dietary supplement containing probiotics.

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

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@popcorn - It can take awhile for antibiotics to work and you may have to complete the entire course, or even get more from your doctor before the symptoms of your bowel infection cease.

I would be careful with self-diagnosing as a lot of stomach issues share symptoms. The symptoms of irritable bowel and the symptoms of an infection can be quite similar for example.

If you are really worried you can always get a second opinion from another doctor. Though, I would save my money and just see if the antibiotics work in the time given. Also, there are always over-the-counter medications to help stop diarrhea if you want to try that.


Does anyone know if you can mistake the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease for the symptoms of a bowel infection?

I have been having some pretty nasty stomach pain and the diarrhea has been really bad. My doctor is convinced I have a bowel infection and has given me antibiotics but they don't seem to be helping much.

I have been doing a lot of reading online and think that I may have something more permanent than just an infection. Is there anyway to know for sure?

I am really worried about my health and it is hard to stay hydrated with bad diarrhea. It is making me miserable.


Having a bowel infection is very miserable, but especially if you are traveling. This happened with my sons fiancee, and I felt so bad for her.

We all took a ski trip for a few days and somewhere along the way, she began having symptoms of a bowel infection.

Her mom is a nurse, so she called her and asked her for some advice for bowel infection treatment. She told her to make sure she drank a lot of water and not to let her body get dehydrated. This can be hard to do when you don't feel like you can keep anything down.

She experienced both nausea and diarrhea with this infection and we had to stop many times on our way home. I felt so bad because I knew this was embarrassing for her, but also understood there was nothing else that could be done.

Post your comments
Forgot password?