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Key Information About Gastroenteritis

Updated on July 9, 2019
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

Gastroenteritis is an acute infectious syndrome of the stomach lining and the intestine. Viral gastroenteritis is also known as stomach flu.

Inflammation Due to Gastroenteritis

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source


The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a viral or bacterial infection, and less commonly parasitic infection.

Most cases in children are caused by a virus called rotavirus. Cases in adults are usually caused by norovirus (the "winter vomiting bug") or bacterial food poisoning.

Noroviruses are a frequent cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in community and institutional settings.

Gastroenteritis is highly contagious and spreads through close contact with people who are infected or via contaminated food or water.


Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source


Depending on the cause, viral gastroenteritis symptoms may appear within 1-3 days after the infection, and can range from mild to severe.

In adults, symptoms of gastroenteritis typically include mild diarrhea (fewer than 10 watery stools daily), abdominal pain and cramps, low-grade fever (below 101° Fahrenheit), headache, nausea and sometimes vomiting. In some cases, there can be bloody diarrhea.

Symptoms usually last just a day or two, but occasionally they may persist as long as 10 days.


Treatment may include oral rehydration drinks, antibiotics (if caused by bacteria), medicines to kill parasites (if parasites are the cause), and plenty of fluids.

In most cases, people with viral gastroenteritis get better on their own without medical treatment.

Foods like ice chips, broth, coconut water, electrolyte beverages, peppermint tea, ginger, banana, dry cereals, plain potatoes, fruits, crackers, pretzels and clear fruit juices help settle your stomach, prevent further complications, and help you bounce back faster.


In young children, diarrhea and vomiting can cause an electrolyte imbalance, which is very dangerous and can lead to death if untreated.

In April 2018, Alison Sonnex, from Ramsgate, Kent, who was on holiday with her husband in Egypt, "most likely" died as a result of gastroenteritis.

In June 2019, Arun Damodar, an Indian national and owner of one of Bur Dubai's oldest flower shops, died due to 'gastroenteritis of presumed infectious nature'.

Death came about due to severe dehydration and acute renal failure caused by gastroenteritis.

In elderly patients suffering from gastro, multiple factors add to their miseries like pre-existing diseases related to heart, kidney and lungs along with hypertension and diabetes.

— Dr. Waseem Ahmed Khawaja, Deputy Director, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.


Wash your hands thoroughly with soap before cooking or eating food. Keep eggs, raw meat and poultry away from foods that are consumed raw.

Keep the kitchen clean. Avoid eating food that is cooked in unhygienic conditions.


Do you wash your hands thoroughly with soap before eating food?

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Gastroenteritis is highly contagious.

Symptoms usually last a couple of days.

People with viral gastroenteritis generally get better on their own.

Electrolyte imbalance (caused by gastroenteritis) can kill.

Gastroenteritis risk can be reduced by washing hands with soap before eating.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R


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