What is gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is inflammation of your stomach and intestines.
Gastroenteritis is usually caused by an infection with a virus or bacteria
You feel very sick to your stomach, throw up, and have diarrhea
Throwing up and diarrhea can lead to dehydration Dehydration Everyone needs water and electrolytes (minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that help with many body functions) to be healthy. Normally, your body automatically balances your level of water... read more (not having enough water in your body), which is especially dangerous in older people and babies
To help prevent the spread of gastroenteritis, wash your hands after using the bathroom and avoid undercooked food
Gastroenteritis usually goes away on its own
You'll need extra fluids and sometimes medicines to help stop vomiting or diarrhea
Antibiotics don't usually help with gastroenteritis
What causes gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is usually caused by:
Other causes include:
What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?
Symptoms start suddenly and include:
Feeling sick to your stomach and throwing up
Belly rumbles or cramps
How can doctors tell I have gastroenteritis?
Doctors know you have gastroenteritis from your symptoms. They usually don't need to do tests, but sometimes they may do:
Stool (poop) tests
How do doctors treat gastroenteritis?
For adults with mild gastroenteritis, doctors will have you:
Take small, frequent sips of fluid
Eat regular food as soon as your stomach feels up to it
If you're a healthy adult, the kind of fluid and food really doesn't matter.
If your baby or young child has gastroenteritis, you should give them:
Oral rehydration fluid, which you can get in a drug store or supermarket
Oral rehydration fluids have the right balance of salts and minerals that babies and young children need.
For more severe gastroenteritis, doctors may:
Give you fluids by vein (IV)
Give you medicines to stop diarrhea and help your belly feel better
Give you medicine to get rid of parasites, if a parasite is causing your gastroenteritis
For certain rarer kinds of gastroenteritis, give you antibiotics
How can I prevent gastroenteritis?
The following lower your chance of getting gastroenteritis:
Washing hands well after using the bathroom and before preparing food
Cooking meat and eggs thoroughly
Trying not to swallow water while swimming in lakes and oceans