Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Gastroenteritis Overview

What is gastroenteritis?
A person with gastroenteritis has inflammation of the stomach and intestines, caused by an infection. Most cases of gastroenteritis are caused by viruses. Some bacteria may also cause a more severe form of bacterial gastroenteritis. Well known viral causes include Norwalk virus infection and rotavirus infection. Well known bacterial causes for gastroenteritis include salmonella enteritis, shigella infection, and toxigenic E coli. Dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea is the most common complication of gastroenteritis.

What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?
Common symptoms of gastroenteritis include cramping abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea is the most common symptom and stools may be watery, bloody, or contain yellow or green mucus.

How does the doctor treat gastroenteritis?
Treatment for most forms of viral gastroenteritis is largely supportive as antibiotics provide no benefit. General treatment includes clear liquid diet, hydration, and fever control. Bacterial gastroenteritis treatment varies based on the species of bacteria. Some may benefit from intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Continue to Gastroenteritis Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 26, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Gastroenteritis References
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Practice parameter: the management of acute gastroenteritis in young children. American Academy of Pediatrics, Provisional Committee on Quality Improvement, Subcommittee on Acute Gastroenteritis. Pediatrics. 1996 Mar;97(3):424-35. [8604285]
  2. Anderson EJ, Weber SG. Rotavirus infection in adults. Lancet Infect Dis. 2004 Feb;4(2):91-9. [14871633]
  3. Lopman BA, Reacher MH, Van Duijnhoven Y, Hanon FX, Brown D, Koopmans M. Viral gastroenteritis outbreaks in Europe, 1995-2000. Emerg Infect Dis. 2003 Jan;9(1):90-6. [12533287]
  4. Szajewska H, Mrukowicz JZ. Probiotics in the treatment and prevention of acute infectious diarrhea in infants and children: a systematic review of published randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001 Oct;33 Suppl 2:S17-25. [11698781]
  5. Widdowson MA, Bresee JS, Gentsch JR, Glass RI. Rotavirus disease and its prevention. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2005 Jan;21(1):26-31. [15687881]
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