What can I expect if I have an E. coli infection?

It’s important to keep in mind that most strains of E. coli are harmless. They live naturally in your intestinal tract and help digest your food. Sometimes, however, you may eat food or drink water that is contaminated with illness-causing E. coli. Sometimes a mild E. coli infection will cause a brief bout of diarrhea. Other strains of E. coli, the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), cause bloody diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and cramps. If you are otherwise healthy, you should recover from an E. coli infection within about a week without any treatment.

Although hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a serious complication, it is rare and occurs in about 5% to 10% of people. With early treatment and proper care, people can recover from HUS.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy