Have you ever had the "stomach flu?" What you probably had was gastroenteritis - not a type of flu at all. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites. Viral gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the U.S. The cause is often a norovirus infection. It spreads through contaminated food or water, and contact with an infected person. The best prevention is frequent hand washing.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever and chills. Most people recover with no treatment.
The most common problem with gastroenteritis is dehydration. This happens if you do not drink enough fluids to replace what you lose through vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration is most common in babies, young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Gastroenteritis: First Aid (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Hand Washing: Do's and Dont's (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Foodborne Illness, Foodborne Disease, (Sometimes Called "Food Poisoning") (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Stomach Flu: How Long Am I Contagious? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Notes from the field: Fatal gastrointestinal mucormycosis in a premature...
- Article: Variation in rotavirus vaccine coverage by provider location and subsequent...
- Article: Descriptive study on acute gastroenteritis in 3,883 patients admitted in...
- Gastroenteritis -- see more articles
- Gastroenteritis in adults -- see more articles
- Bacterial gastroenteritis Available in Spanish
- Bland diet Available in Spanish
- CMV - gastroenteritis/colitis Available in Spanish
- Fecal culture Available in Spanish
- Rectal culture Available in Spanish
- Stool Gram stain Available in Spanish
- Viral gastroenteritis Available in Spanish
- When you have nausea and vomiting Available in Spanish
- When you or your child has diarrhea Available in Spanish