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Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the digestive tract, particularly the stomach, and large and small intestines. Viral and bacterial gastroenteritis are intestinal infections associated with symptoms of diarrhea , abdominal cramps, nausea , and vomiting .

Gastroenteritis is an uncomfortable and inconvenient ailment, but is rarely life-threatening in the United States and other developed nations. Viral gastroenteritis is frequently referred to as the stomach or intestinal flu, although the influenza virus is not associated with this illness.

Gastroenteritis symptoms include nausea and vomiting , watery diarrhea, and abdominal pain and cramps. These symptoms are sometimes accompanied by bloating, low fever , chills, headache , and overall tiredness or weakness. Gastroenteritis symptoms typically last two to three days, but some viruses may last up to a week.

Infants, young children, the elderly, and anyone with an underlying disease are more vulnerable to complications of gastroenteritis. The greatest danger presented by gastroenteritis is dehydration. The loss of fluids through diarrhea and vomiting can upset the body's electrolyte balance, leading to potentially life-threatening problems such as heart beat abnormalities (arrhythmia). The risk of dehydration increases as symptoms become prolonged. Untreated, severe dehydration can be life threatening. Dehydration should be suspected if symptoms of a dry mouth, increased or excessive thirst, or decreased urination are experienced.

Rotavirus is the world's most common cause of diarrhea in infants and young children. Norovirus is the most common cause of serious gastroenteritis and also foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S.

Although not as common, bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can also trigger the stomach flu. Salmonella and campylobacter bacteria are the most common bacterial causes of gastroenteritis in the U.S. and are usually spread by undercooked poultry, eggs, or poultry juices. Salmonella can also be spread through pet reptiles or live poultry.

. Most gastroenteritis recover without medication. Generally, only symptoms are treated. The most important point is to replace the lost fluids.
. Antidiarrheal drugs are only necessary after a few days and should not be taken without medical prescription. Drugs that thicken the stool are not recommended because the pathogen is then longer in the intestine.
. Antibiotics are not effective for all pathogens