Gastroenteritis, also called gastro or infectious diarrhoea is due to inflammation or infection of the gastrointestinal tract, which comprises the stomach and intestine. Many people also refer to it as a “stomach bug”, “stomach virus”, or “stomach flu”, but it is not influenza. Although most individuals complain of a painful stomach, it can also include small intestines and colon.

Gastroenteritis symptoms

The stomach infection symptoms include

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Painful stomach
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood in the stools
  • Pus in the stools
  • Weakness
  • Body aches
Gastroenteritis Symptoms

When to see a doctor?

  • Seek medical help if the person is feeling very weak due to severe dehydration
  • If the child is having severe vomiting and diarrhoea which is not improving by taking medicines
  • There is sudden, severe abdominal pain
  • There are serious dehydration symptoms
  • Symptoms of intestinal infection are not going away with medications

Causes and Risks factors

There are various gastroenteritis causes based on etiology, including


Campylobacter bacterium


Norovirus, rotavirus, calicivirus, adenovirus and astrovirus.


Entamoeba histolytica, Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia

Bacterial toxins

Bacterial micro-organisms themselves are not responsible for causing diseases, but the bacterial poisonous by-products can result in contaminated food. Specific staphylococcal bacterial strains generate toxins that can give rise to gastroenteritis.


Lead poisoning can induce gastroenteritis


Few medications, for example - antibiotics can trigger gastroenteritis.

Causes of Infectious Gastroenteritis

Infectious gastroenteritis is a result of bacteria, viruses, or parasites. When the pathogen is ingested, mainly by mouth, it causes gastroenteritis which spreads infection as well. Some of the common gastroenteritis causing pathogens are

Escherichia coli infection

Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria is found in the intestines of healthy people. It is usually harmless. But E. Coli strains like E. coli O157:H7 can give rise to abdomen pain, stomach cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. It is commonly observed in travellers visiting to countries with bad sanitation habits. E. coli infection is a result of consuming contaminated water and food.

Campylobacter infection

It is a common foodborne illness resulting in food poisoning. A person can get infected by the Campylobacter micro-organism by eating raw or undercooked meat, drinking contaminated water or raw milk, or handling infected animal faeces. Few infected individuals don't exhibit any symptoms.

Cryptosporidium infection

It is a microscopic parasite causing the disease cryptosporidiosis. The parasite stays in the intestine of humans and animals. The Cryptosporidium infection can happen by accidentally swallowing contaminated water during swimming, or by contact with affected animals. Its symptoms are watery diarrhoea, dehydration, nausea, vomiting and fever.


It is a parasitic infection. It happens by drinking contaminated water, managing infected animals or doing a nappy change of an infected baby and avoiding washing hands afterwards. Its symptoms are diarrhoea, stomach pain and dehydration.


This infection is a result of Salmonella bacteria. It is transmitted to humans by consuming foods contaminated with animal faeces or handling infected animals. Salmonellosis symptoms are stomach pain, dehydration and abdominal pain.


It is an infection caused by Shigella bacteria. It is found in human faeces. Shigellosis infection occurs by eating contaminated food or drinking water, or through sexual contact with an infected person.

Viral gastroenteritis

It is an infection of the inside lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Viral gastroenteritis occurs through direct contact with an infected person or by consuming foul food or water. Its symptoms are watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and low-grade fever.

Diagnosis of Gastroenteritis

Your doctor will record your medical history, ask for symptoms and past travelling history. He may further recommend some tests to find out the underlying cause. The gastroenteritis diagnosis is done as follows

Diagnosis of viral gastroenteritis

  • Stool electron microscopy
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR test)
  • Enzyme-linked immunoassay (Elisa test)
  • Latex agglutination test

Diagnosis of Bacterial gastroenteritis

  • Microscopy
  • Stool culture
  • Biochemical reactions
  • Serological typing
  • Sigmoidoscopy

Treatment of Gastroenteritis

The treatment depends on the cause of the infection. The treatment usually followed is

  • Drink plenty of fluids and oral rehydration drinks
  • Hospital admission and intravenous fluid replacement, are required in critical cases.
  • Antibiotics for bacterial gastroenteritis
  • Antiparasitic drugs for infections by parasites
  • Refrain from taking anti-vomiting or anti-diarrhoea drugs because these medicines will keep the infection inside the body. These drugs should be taken as per the doctor's prescription only.

Prevention of Gastroenteritis

  • Proper hand-washing with soap and water after using the toilet or changing baby's nappies, after tobacco smoking and after handling animals.
  • Do not use raw and cooked foods with the kitchen appliances unless they have been properly washed after each use.
  • Breastfeeding babies instead of using substitute milk formula
  • Keep all kitchen surfaces, utensils and appliances clean.
  • Store cold food below 5 °C to keep it cool and keep hot food hot above 60 °C to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Take care food is entirely cooked.
  • Keep the toilet and bathroom clean.
  • When travelling to other countries where sanitation is a problem, only drink purified bottled water.
  • Prefer eating foods from restaurants that are cleanly maintained

Gastroenteritis Dos and Don’ts

Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the intestines. It can be a bacterial as well as viral infection and includes common symptoms like diarrhoea, painful stomach, nausea, etc.

Do’s Don’ts
Eat thoroughly cooked food Eat improperly cooked food
Drink purified water Drink contaminated water
Wash hands with soap thoroughly Have unhygienic hands
After going to the toilet wash hands Drink coffee, alcohol, juices and other carbonated drinks
Keep all kitchen utensils clean Eat milk and dairy products

It is possible to prevent gastroenteritis by following certain hygienic practices in our daily lives. Severe gastroenteritis conditions can cause many health problems and lead to hospitalization.

Gastroenteritis Care at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover Hospitals, we have the most trusted team of gastroenterologists, general medicine and infectious diseases doctors working together to provide excellent healthcare to our patients. Our team adopts a multi-disciplinary approach for treating gastroenteritis conditions with the active participation of experts like gastroenterologists, general physicians, infectious diseases specialists, trained nurses and other paramedical staff, who provide the best gastroenteritis treatment. We provide world-class healthcare services at affordable costs in all our departments to offer superior treatment outcomes and experience to our customers.


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