The most common signs of a colon infection are abdominal cramps and diarrhea that sometimes contains blood, according to MedicineNet. Typically, cramping pain is worse just before a bowel movement and subsides after the person defecates. Fever, chills, general malaise and dehydration sometimes occur as well.
Also known as infectious colitis, colon infections cause irritation of the lining of the intestine and spasms of the muscles that control elimination, as MedicineNet explains. These spasms lead to intermittent, cramping pain, usually in the lower abdomen. Additionally, the colon fails to reabsorb fluid normally, leading to watery diarrhea and more frequent bowel movements. Irritation of the intestinal lining can also cause sensitive tissue to break down, leading to bloody stools. If excessive fluid loss leads to dehydration, weakness, dizziness and decreased urine output also occur.
The most common cause of colon infection is eating food contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella, campylobacter, shigella and E. coli, MedicineNet explains. However, in hospitalized patients and people who recently took antibiotics, an infection caused by the organism Clostridium difficile sometimes occurs. Although symptoms initially resemble those of other colon infections, Clostridium difficile colitis can lead to severe complications, such as rupture of the colon and chronic diarrhea, if the infection is severe.