The small bowel or small intestine is a long tube connecting the stomach to the large intestine. Its primary function is to absorb and digest food. The small bowel can become infected by bacteria, protozoa or worms. Infections can occur by eating contaminated food or water, and through poor hygiene.
The most common symptom of small bowel infection is diarrhoea. Some of the other symptoms include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, abdominal obstruction, bloating, nausea and vomiting. More severe infections may include prolonged fever, multiple organ dysfunction, malabsorption, significant weight loss and inflammation in the brain and kidneys unless treated.
Small bowel infections can be diagnosed with stool tests, biopsy, upper abdomen endoscopy, and imaging tests such as X-rays. Mild infections often resolve on their own, but for more severe cases, treatment involves the administration of medications such as antibiotics.