Enteritis is inflammation of the small intestine.
Enteritis is most often caused by eating or drinking things that are contaminated with bacteria or viruses. The germs settle in the small intestine and cause inflammation and swelling.
Enteritis may also be caused by:
Risk factors include:
Types of enteritis include:
The symptoms may begin hours to days after you become infected. Symptoms may include:
Tests may include:
Mild cases often do not need treatment.
Antidiarrheal medicine is sometimes used. However, it may not be recommended in some cases because it can slow the germ from leaving the digestive tract.
You may need rehydration with electrolyte solutions if your body does not have enough fluids.
You may need medical care and fluids through a vein (intravenous fluids) if you have diarrhea and cannot keep fluids down. This is often the case with young children.
If you take diuretics and develop diarrhea, you may need to stop taking the diuretic. However, do not stop taking any medicine without first talking to your health care provider.
You may need to take antibiotics.
People who have Crohn's disease will often need to take anti-inflammatory medicines.
Symptoms most often go away without treatment in a few days in otherwise healthy people.
Note: In babies, the diarrhea can cause severe dehydration that comes on very quickly.
Call your health care provider if:
DuPont HL. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 291.
Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 142.
Giannella Ra. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis and bacterial food poisoning. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 107.
Updated by: Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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