Also called: Stomach flu

Have you ever had the "stomach flu?" What you probably had was gastroenteritis - not a type of flu at all. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites. Viral gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the U.S. The cause is often a norovirus infection. It spreads through contaminated food or water, and contact with an infected person. The best prevention is frequent hand washing.

Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Most people recover with no treatment.

The most common problem with gastroenteritis is dehydration. This happens if you do not drink enough fluids to replace what you lose through vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration is most common in babies, young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis

The following features are indicative of Gastroenteritis:
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • occasional muscle aches
  • headache
  • low-grade fever
It is possible that Gastroenteritis shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Gastroenteritis

The following are the most common causes of Gastroenteritis:
  • contaminated food
  • contaminated water
  • raw or undercooked oysters

Risk Factors for Gastroenteritis

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Gastroenteritis:
  • young children
  • older adults
  • weakened immune system

Prevention of Gastroenteritis

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Gastroenteritis. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • get your child vaccinated
  • wash your hands thoroughly
  • avoid sharing eating utensils, glasses and plates
  • use separate towels in the bathroom
  • avoid close contact with anyone who has the virus
  • disinfect hard surfaces

Occurrence of Gastroenteritis

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Gastroenteritis cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Gastroenteritis can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Gastroenteritis can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Gastroenteritis

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Gastroenteritis:
  • Stool test: To detect the presence of virus in the stool

Doctor for Diagnosis of Gastroenteritis

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Gastroenteritis:
  • Infectious disease specialist

Complications of Gastroenteritis if untreated

Yes, Gastroenteritis causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Gastroenteritis is left untreated:
  • dehydration
  • can be fatal

Self-care for Gastroenteritis

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Gastroenteritis:
  • Get plenty of rest: Makes you feel comfortable
  • Prevent dehydration: Avoid certain dairy products and fatty foods until you feel better

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Gastroenteritis

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Gastroenteritis:
  • Suck ice chips: Helps in preventing dehydration

Time for Treatment of Gastroenteritis

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Gastroenteritis to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Within 1 week

Is Gastroenteritis Infectious?

Yes, Gastroenteritis is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • direct contact with the infected person

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Gastroenteritis.
Foodborne Illness
Nausea and Vomiting
Norovirus Infections
Rotavirus Infections
Traveler's Health

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