Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu) (cont.)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
In this Article
- Definition of gastroenteritis
- What causes gastroenteritis?
- What are the most common causes of gastroenteritis?
- What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?
- Is gastroenteritis contagious?
- Who is at risk for gastroenteritis?
- How is gastroenteritis transmitted?
- How does food become contaminated with gastroenteritis bacteria or viruses?
- How is gastroenteritis diagnosed?
- How is gastroenteritis treated?
- When should I call my doctor for gastroenteritis?
- What are complications of gastroenteritis?
- Can gastroenteritis be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for gastroenteritis?
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
What are the most common causes of gastroenteritis?
The most prevalent cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. and the world is Norovirus. It causes about 50% to 70% of viral gastroenteritis while Rotavirus, Astrovirus, Adenovirus, and Sapovirus strains cause most of the other viral gastroenteritis infections. In 2013, Norovirus was also listed as the leading cause of gastroenteritis in children under 5 years old according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Bacterial causes of gastroenteritis that occur worldwide are Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter Aeromonas, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains of bacteria. Other bacteria like Clostridium, Vibrio, Campylobacter, and Yersinia spp can cause outbreaks occasionally.
Parasites such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Entamoeba infections can cause gastroenteritis and occasionally, other parasites have outbreaks such as the Cyclospora outbreak that occurred in 2012 to 2013 in the U.S.
There are many other less frequent causes of gastroenteritis such as food allergies, antibiotics, and toxins. Gastroenteritis symptoms are frequently listed as possible side effects of many medicines.
What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?
The primary symptom of gastroenteritis is diarrhea (non-bloody). Nausea, vomiting, and some abdominal cramping may accompany the diarrhea; mild fever (about 100 F or 37.77 C), chills, headache, and muscle aches along with feeling tired may occur in some individuals. Vomiting is occasional and the symptoms usually last about 2 to 5 days and begin to resolve. Severe gastroenteritis means the person has signs of dehydration: this is a medical emergency.
Children with gastroenteritis usually have diarrhea, but may have other symptoms, sometimes conflicting, of refusing to eat or drink or are very thirsty, either increased or low or no urine output. Weight loss, lethargy, and pinched skin that does not rapidly go back to normal are signs of dehydration, along with decreased fluid intake.
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