The Causes and Treatments of Gastroenteritis

Updated on March 9, 2017

What is gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the gut and intestines. Viruses, germs and other bacteria can cause this. Food poisoning can also be a cause. Gastroenteritis is very common, and afflicts about 20% of the UK population each year. Although more common in children, adults do get it too. Although most cases are mild and need no medical assistance, in some cases it can be severe and will require the person to require hospital treatment.

The symptoms can be a number of things.

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramp in the stomach area
  • High temperature
  • Headache
  • Aching limbs
  • Blood in your stools
  • Loss of appetite

Gastroenteritis is highly contagious. This is why sometimes hospitals get an outbreak of this. This can also be called the norovirus or stomach flu. This illness can last anything from around 3 days to a week. But normally clears itself up over a few days. Not being able to eat is one of the main aspects of this illness, which could lead to malnutrition. And if you have diarrhoea and vomiting, this could also lead to dehydration.

Suffering with gastroenteritis.


What you can do if you suffer with this.

Well, the main thing to do if you suffer with gastroenteritis is to make sure you drink plenty. If you are being sick and have diarrhoea this can easily cause dehydration. So always make sure you get plenty of fluid inside you. Also make sure you wash your hands on a regular basis. Gastroenteritis is highly contagious, so it's very important to make sure you keep your hands clean to prevent the risk of infecting others and spread germs. If you can manage any food at all, eat small amounts of dry food such as dry toast or rice.

If you get a high temperature or if the problems persist, then go and see your Doctor. And, of course, if there is blood in your vomit or stools, then seek medical advice. This also applies if you have a high temperature. But usually gastroenteritis clears up itself after a few days. Yes, it is a horrible illness to have and will leave you feeling very ill - depending on how bad you suffer with it. But the main thing is to make sure you drink plenty. And also make sure you try and get plenty of rest.

The intestines

My personal experience

Having suffered with gastroenteritis a couple of times in the past, I can say it isn't very pleasant at all. The first time I had this was a particularly bad experience. I was ill for about a week and remember feeling absolutely weak. I didn't eat anything for 5 days, but did make sure I drank as much water as my stomach would let me. Being sick and on the toilet all the time doesn't help, so had to make sure I was getting enough fluids in my system.

I did call the doctor out as I felt I was dying, but really, there wasn't much he could do apart from advising I drink plenty and rest. He did give me some sachets that help re-hydrate you though. Thankfully I slowly began to recover after about a week. But having suffered with this first hand, I can sympathize with anyone who gets gastroenteritis.

A guide to gastroenteritis.

In Summary

Yes, gastroenteritis is a terrible and debilitating disease. But 9 times out of 10 it will clear up after a few days. It is highly contageous, so always make sure you wash your hands after handling food or going to the toilet. If at any time you start passing blood or you are not getting any better, then seek medical assistance. And always make sure you drink plenty to keep yourself hydrated.

Gastroenteritis is more common than you think. Although it is very common in children, many adults suffer with it too. In the rare case it can lead to hospital treatment, but this is in an extreme case. The best advice is to get plenty of rest and make sure you get plenty of fluids in you.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers


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      • Journey * profile image

        Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

        10 months ago from USA

        Thanks for sharing the information and telling about your experience.

      • srirad0675 profile image

        Srikanth R 

        21 months ago

        Useful inputs.

      • Claire-louise profile image

        Claire Raymond 

        23 months ago from UK

        Wish I had read this last month! Great article.

      • Debangee Mandal profile image


        23 months ago from India

        Yes gastroenteritis is a very common occurring infection . A very informative hub. Well written.

      • AudreyHowitt profile image

        Audrey Howitt 

        2 years ago from California

        When my kids were little, it seems like there was always a stomach bug floating through the family--I spent more time washing hands than I care to tell you--

      • Genna East profile image

        Genna East 

        2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

        Interesting hub, Louise. I didn't know that gastroenteritis was highly contagious. I'm sorry you've twice had this -- it must have been an awful experience. Are antibiotics ever prescribed for this? The symptoms are a little similar to C.diffs, which can occur from multiple antibiotics or antibiotics taken over a long period of time.

      • Venkatachari M profile image

        Venkatachari M 

        2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

        Very informative and useful information on tackling this issue of Gastroenteritis.

        I suffered from this and know the problems faced by people. It makes you very restless and even tense. You should avoid taking solid food and spend with very light liquid foods that are more easily digestible during such occasions. And, remember to drink plenty of water as that cleanses your stomach and colon perfectly. It normally takes 3 complete days to get relief from these problems along with some medication.

      • manatita44 profile image


        2 years ago from london

        I had all your problems, my Sweet. Really, really bad. I was in a foreign country and I too, thought that I could die, as did not friend who spent three days peeping at me during the night, to make sure I was alive.

        I was able to tolerate small amounts of apple juice, nothing else. I finally went to the doctor and I got some medicine which helped. I never knew what they were, but they were pretty effective. Well written and described.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        2 years ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks for the warning and for sharing from your experience. Not being able to eat must be really appalling.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        2 years ago from Southern Illinois

        Interesting and informative topic. I have not had this, but I can see that it is a serious problem. Thanks for sharing...

      • FlourishAnyway profile image


        2 years ago from USA

        This sounds awful, especially how long symptoms last. It's interesting that some people are genetically Norovirus resistant. I've received results that say I'm supposedly one of them. I'm glad to miss out on this experience!

      • Ajsdairy profile image

        Aj Malaji 

        2 years ago from Hyderabad

        good that i read this article, i never knew that gastroenteritis was contagious. ohhh...i need to take care of it now. Thanks for the info


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