Patients Care


Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, involving both the stomach and the small intestine resulting in acute diarrhea. It can be transferred by contact with contaminated food and water. The inflammation is caused most often by an infection from certain viruses or less often by bacteria.


  • Diarrhea, which is characterized by frequent and watery bowel movements, is often caused by gastrointestinal infections, although it can also come from other illnesses or changes in diet. Germs such as parasites, viruses, or bacteria can all cause gastrointestinal (GI) infections.
  • Germs which are responsible for diarrhea depends on the geographic area a person lives in and its level of sanitation, economic development and hygiene standards. For example, countries that have poor sanitation or use human waste as fertilizer tend to have outbreaks of diarrhea when intestinal bacteria or parasites contaminate crops or drinking water.
  • In developed countries like the United States, outbreaks of diarrhea are most often caused by what we call food poisoning. Food poisoning happens when toxins made by bacteria in food that is not handled, stored, or cooked properly make a person sick.
  • The viruses that cause diarrheal illness, also known as viral gastroenteritis, can pass through a household (or a college dorm or other place where lots of people live together) quickly because they're highly infectious. Luckily, the diarrhea usually goes away on its own in a few days.
  • For healthy teens and adults, viral gastroenteritis is a common with minor inconvenience, but for small children and people with chronic illnesses, it can lead to dehydration that requires medical attention.
  • Many different types of bacteria and parasites can also cause GI infections and diarrhea. Most are not serious and go away after a few days, but others can be quite serious.
  • Some sources of the infection are improperly prepared food, reheated meat dishes, seafood, dairy and bakery products.

Sign and Symptoms

  • Gastroenteritis often involves infection of the upper small bowel, or inflammatory infections of the colon.
  • The condition is usually of acute onset, normally lasting 1–6 days and is self-limiting.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Abnormal flatulence
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloody stools
  • Fainting and Weakness


  • The objective of treatment is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Oral rehydration is the preferred treatment of fluid and electrolyte losses caused by diarrhea in children with mild to moderate dehydration.
  • The primary treatment of gastroenteritis in both children and adults is rehydration, i.e., replenishment of water and electrolytes lost in the stools. This is preferably achieved by giving the person oral rehydration therapy.
  • Although intravenous delivery may be required if a decreased level of consciousness is present. Complex-carbohydrate-based Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) such as those made from wheat or rice have been found to be superior to simple sugar-based ORS.
  • Sugary drinks such as soft drinks and fruit juice are not recommended for gastroenteritis in children under 5 years of age as they may make the diarrhea worse. Plain water may be used if specific ORS are unavailable or not palatable.
  • It is recommended that breastfed infants continue to be nursed on demand and that formula-fed infants should continue their usual formula immediately after rehydration with oral rehydration solutions.
  • Children receiving semisolid or solid foods should continue to receive their usual diet during episodes of diarrhea. Foods high in simple sugars should be avoided e.g. soft drinks, juice and other high simple sugar foods.
  • Gastroenteritis is usually an acute and self-limited disease that does not require pharmacological therapy.