Know More About Acute Gastroenteritis


By Dr. Prabha Sawant in Gastroenterology

Acute gastroenteritis is a disease in which you get sick from food or water that has been contaminated with microorganisms. It makes it hard for you to keep anything down, including liquids. It is common in children but can affect people of all ages. Worldwide, viral gastroenteritis causes 2-5 billion cases and millions of deaths each year in children under 5 years old. Viral gastroenteritis can be dangerous for people with weak immune systems like infants, children, and older adults. You should take precautions to avoid contaminated food and water to keep healthy.

Symptoms of Acute Gastroenteritis

Acute gastroenteritis can cause a person to feel sick with these symptoms:

  • Severe abdominal pain and cramps
  • Passage of frequent watery stools (diarrhoea)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache and low-grade fever due to infection
  • Occasional muscle aches
  • Dehydration as a result of constant diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Dry skin, dry mouth, and lightheadedness, low urine output

It's critical to be aware of indications of dehydration and visit a doctor as soon as possible.

Causes of Gastroenteritis

Bacteria, viruses, and protozoa are the causes of gastroenteritis. The two primary viral infections that cause gastroenteritis are:


It's the most notorious viral gastroenteritis in youngsters across the world. Infants and small children are particularly vulnerable to this form of illness. When infants or young kids touch contaminated objects and put their fingers into their mouths, they may get infected. Adults can also be affected by this virus; however, they might not have any symptoms but can still spread it.


It's also known as Winter Flu, and it's the most prevalent food-borne illness in the world, affecting both adults and children. The contamination of food and water is most likely how this virus spreads.

Bacteria and their toxins, such as those produced by Staphylococcus or E. coli, or Bacillus cereus, cause the majority of food poisoning incidents.

Food poisoning is the most prevalent cause of acute gastritis, which is triggered by a number of other factors, including:

  • Consumption of food contaminated with any of these pathogenic microorganisms.
  • Sharing of food, utensils, or towels with an infected person.
  • Not washing hands after using the toilet.
  • Consumption of raw, undercooked food.

Treatment of Acute Gastroenteritis

Management of acute gastroenteritis focuses on preventing dehydration, controlling diarrhea and vomiting, with enough nutrition, and prevention of other complications.

Oral rehydration solutions are used to treat mild to moderate dehydration at home.

Severe dehydration may require hospitalization and administration of intravenous fluids.

Prebiotic and probiotic foods may be advised to improve gut health and prevent diarrhoea and vomiting.

Oral zinc, bismuth compounds, or loperamide may be prescribed during the onset of symptoms to reduce the severity of diarrhoea.

Antibiotics are only indicated in cases of bacterial gastroenteritis associated with septicaemia.

Risk Factors for Acute Gastroenteritis

Anyone can become infected with acute gastroenteritis. However, the risk of infection is higher in infants and young children, pregnant women, older adults with weaker immune systems, people dealing with chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease, those who are on specific medications like chemotherapy drugs. There's also an increased chance of viral gastroenteritis at day-care centers and nursing homes due to constant person-to-person contact.

Preventions of Acute Gastroenteritis

The best way to prevent contracting acute gastroenteritis is to avoid contaminated food and water supplies by using licensed food handlers to prepare food at home. It is advisable to keep utensils used in preparation separate from those used for serving. Hands should be washed before and after handling food, especially when using the toilet.

Avoid coming into contact with people suffering from severe diarrhoea or vomiting as they are at risk of spreading microorganisms that cause gastroenteritis. Wash hands thoroughly if in such close proximity.

Frequently Asked Question

What is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis?

Norovirus is the most prevalent viral disease of the stomach. Symptoms typically begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure and last 1 to 3 days. rotavirus infections. Symptoms generally start approximately 2 days after infection and last 3 to 8 days.

How is acute gastroenteritis diagnosed?

A doctor will first undertake a thorough medical history to diagnose gastroenteritis. Lab tests are typically not required in the majority of cases. If you have a high temperature or blood in your stool, laboratory study checks may be necessary. Ultrasounds, X-rays, and CT scans are occasionally beneficial in establishing the condition.

What are the signs of acute gastroenteritis?

Acute gastroenteritis usually begins with abdominal pain and diarrhea. There may be vomiting, headache and a low-grade fever and someone will become dehydrated. The sickness can be acute or chronic.

What is the best treatment for acute gastroenteritis?

For the best treatment for acute gastroenteritis, drink a lot of liquids (such as Oral Rehydration Salts), go to the hospital immediately, receive intravenous fluids if necessary, take antibiotics if bacteria are present, and/or use medications to kill parasites.

When to consult a doctor for acute gastroenteritis?

If the symptoms don't clear up after 3 days, consult your doctor. If you have blood or pus in your stool or vomit that is green or yellow, go to the hospital right away to show the doctor. Book an appointment with a doctor by clicking on the link:

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