What is gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is a virus often called “infectious diarrhea” caused by an infection of the stomach and small bowel that results in symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. Children, adults and elderly patients can develop this illness.

What are the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis?

The infection will typically cause either diarrhea and/or vomiting. Sometimes patients can develop other symptoms such as fevers, headaches or muscle aches, belly pain or cramping and loss of appetite.

Because dehydration (losing too much water) can occur if with diarrhea and vomiting. That can make you have a dark urine and feel thirsty, dizzy and very tired. This can be life-threatening in babies and elderly patients, so it is important to continue drinking fluids throughout the day, even though they may not stay down.

These symptoms usually last about 2 weeks.

How did I get gastroenteritis?

Patients can develop this illness in the following circumstances:

  • Touching an infected person and then not washing their hands
  • Sharing food or drink with someone who has the infection.

How is gastroenteritis treated?

Most patients will improve on their own. Antibiotics are not used to treat this condition. Most of the time, there is no necessary “treatment” except to drink plenty of water.

People with become dehydrated might need treatment in the hospital. They will typically receive hydration through an IV.

Can this be prevented?

Yes, by following some recommendations below:

  • Hand washing with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or eating food
  • Get the Rotavirus vaccination for your baby

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If this is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.

For your safety, please select a MyChart video visit on demand or call our MyCare Advice Line at 844-262-1949 before scheduling if:

  • You currently have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
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  • You are experiencing a new loss of taste and/or sense of smell
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    • runny nose or nasal congestion
    • nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

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