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Gastroenteritis: Introduction

Gastroenteritis is a general word and a symptom of any condition, disorder or disease that causes irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Gastroenteritis is most frequently caused by a viral infection and is also often referred to as viral gastroenteritis, the stomach flu or the 24 or 48 hour bug.

The hallmark symptoms of gastroenteritis are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Gastroenteritis can also lead to dehydration. The underlying disorder, disease or condition that is causing gastroenteritis can also cause complications. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of gastroenteritis.

In addition to a gastrointestinal viral infection, gastroenteritis can also result from a variety of other conditions. These include irritable bowel syndrome, food poisoning, traveler's diarrhea, or a toxic ingestion. A toxic ingestion occurs after eating a substance that is toxic, such as a poisonous plant or mushroom.

Gastroenteritis can occur in any age group or population. Gastroenteritis can be a symptom of a mild condition, such as indigestion or stress a moderate condition, disorder or disease, such as a side effect of medication, such as antibiotics or chemotherapy. Gastroenteritis can also occur in serious, even life-threatening conditions, including food poisoning and anthrax.

Some causes of gastroenteritis, such as viral gastroenteritis, are contagious. Other causes are not contagious, including irritable bowel syndrome and toxic ingestion. Depending on the cause, gastroenteritis can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when gastroenteritis occurs after a single episode of alcohol intoxication. Gastroenteritis can also be recurring over a longer period of time, such as when gastroenteritis is due to irritable bowel syndrome.

Diagnosing gastroenteritis and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Diagnosis may also include a complete blood count, which can help to determine if an infectious process, such as food poisoning is present.

A stool sample may be tested to determine if food poisoning or bacterial infection is the cause of the gastroenteritis. This is called a stool culture and sensitivity, which can also determine the most effective antibiotic to use to treat gastroenteritis due to a bacterial infection.

A chemistry panel is a blood test that can evaluate if gastroenteritis has lead to the complication of dehydration. An urinanalysis can also help to determine dehydration.

Making a diagnosis may also include performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose other potential underlying diseases, conditions or disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or a toxic ingestion. If the gastroenteritis does not resolve quickly, tests can include additional blood tests and imaging tests such as X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound or occasionally endoscopy.

In an endoscopy procedure, a special lighted instrument is inserted into the area or areas of the gastrointestinal system that are suspected to be the cause of the gastroenteritis and other symptoms. This instrument, called an endoscope, takes pictures of the digestive tract and/or sends images to a computer monitor.

A diagnosis of gastroenteritis and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because gastroenteritis may be intermittent and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of gastroenteritis.

Treatment of gastroenteritis involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be quickly and successfully treated, while others, such as irritable bowel syndrome may require more difficult to treat. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of gastroenteritis. ...more »

Gastroenteritis: Acute stomach or intestine inflammation. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Gastroenteritis is available below.

Gastroenteritis: Symptoms

Gastroenteritis can be mild to severe. Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis generally resolve within 24-48 hours, but other causes of gastroenteritis can last longer.

Gastroenteritis can experienced and described in a variety of ways that often include the sensation of nausea prior to the onset of vomiting and diarrhea gastroenteritis. Nausea may be described as feelings of wooziness, ...more symptoms »

Gastroenteritis: Treatments

The first step in treating gastroenteritis is prevention. This includes preventing food poisoning by throwing out expired food or perishable food that has been in room temperature for two hours or longer. Prevention also includes protecting small children and not eating unknown or potentially poisonous plants and mushrooms.

Prevention of the spread of harmful viruses that cause ...more treatments »

Gastroenteritis: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing gastroenteritis and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, gastroenteritis may not be severe enough or last long enough for a person to seek medical care. This is especially common with mild bouts of viral gastroenteritis. In addition, symptoms of gastroenteritis may be assumed to be due to a mild viral gastroenteritis, ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis

Treatments for Gastroenteritis

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Gastroenteritis:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis: Related Patient Stories

Gastroenteritis: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Gastroenteritis.

Types of Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Gastroenteritis:

Causes of Gastroenteritis

More information about causes of Gastroenteritis:

Disease Topics Related To Gastroenteritis

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Gastroenteritis:

Gastroenteritis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Gastroenteritis

Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases, because it may cause only mild or even absent symptoms. Although the most common more »

Undiagnosed acute appendicitis deadly in children: It is a sad reality that a child with acute appendicitis has a high likelihood of misdiagnosis. This misdiagnosis is a well-known more »

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal imbalance. more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning). more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can more »

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, more »

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some of the better known possibilities are peptic ulcer, colon cancer, irritable more »

Gastroenteritis: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Gastroenteritis

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Gastroenteritis:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Gastroenteritis, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Gastroenteritis: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis: Animations

Prognosis for Gastroenteritis

Research about Gastroenteritis

Visit our research pages for current research about Gastroenteritis treatments.

Clinical Trials for Gastroenteritis

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Gastroenteritis include:

Statistics for Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis: Broader Related Topics

Gastroenteritis Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Gastroenteritis, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Definitions of Gastroenteritis:

Inflammation of any segment of the gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum; causes of gastroenteritis are many including genetic, infection, hypersensitivity, drug effects, and cancer. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Inflammation of the stomach and intestines; can be caused by Salmonella enteritidis - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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