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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: 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, although symptoms may be due ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Gastroenteritis:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Gastroenteritis. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Gastroenteritis: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Gastroenteritis

Home medical tests possibly related to Gastroenteritis:

Causes of Types of Gastroenteritis:

Review causes of types of Gastroenteritis in more specific categories:

Gastroenteritis: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Gastroenteritis, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

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 ...Gastroenteritis Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Gastroenteritis may include:

Review further information on Gastroenteritis Treatments.

Stories from Users for Gastroenteritis

Real-life user stories relating to Gastroenteritis:

Gastroenteritis: Animations

Medications or substances causing Gastroenteritis:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Gastroenteritis as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Gastroenteritis: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Gastroenteritis may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Gastroenteritis

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

Gastroenteritis: Deaths

Read more about causes and Gastroenteritis deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Gastroenteritis

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 cause of death, 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 best known, irritable bowel syndrome, is over-diagnosed, whereas other causes that 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 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" 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). In fact, it' 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 be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal effect). One of the more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is 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 bowel syndrome, or GERD. more »

Gastroenteritis: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Gastroenteritis

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Gastroenteritis:

Gastroenteritis: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Gastroenteritis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Causes of Gastroenteritis listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Gastroenteritis as a symptom include:

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)

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 - CRISP)

Detailed list of causes of Gastroenteritis

The list below shows some of the causes of Gastroenteritis mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Gastroenteritis?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Gastroenteritis. Of the 35 causes of Gastroenteritis that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 2 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 2 causes are "common" diseases
  • 1 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 5 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 25 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Gastroenteritis:

The following list of conditions have 'Gastroenteritis' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Gastroenteritis or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Gastroenteritis:

The following list of medical conditions have Gastroenteritis or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.


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Causes of Gastroenteritis Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Gastroenteritis based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Classifications of Gastroenteritis:

    Medical Conditions associated with Gastroenteritis:

    Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Inflammatory symptoms (1736 causes), Intestinal symptoms (5299 causes), Lower abdominal symptoms (3048 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Digestive system symptoms (5299 causes), Infection-related symptoms (1293 causes)

    Symptoms related to Gastroenteritis:

    Diarrhea (2312 causes), Abdominal pain (2568 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Food intolerance, Parasitic digestive infection, Traveler's diarrhea, Viral digestive infection, Amebic dysentery, Staphylococcus aureus food poisoning, Iron poisoning, E coli food poisoning

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Gastroenteritis:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


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