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What is Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis (otherwise known as stomach flu) is marked by severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract involving both the stomach and small intestine resulting in acute diarrhea and vomiting. It can be transferred by contact with contaminated food and water.

How is it caused?

Gastroenteritis has many causes. Viruses and bacteria are the most common. Viruses and bacteria are very contagious and can spread through contaminated food or water. In up to 50% of diarrheal outbreaks, no specific agent is found. The infection can spread from person to person because of improper hand washing following a bowel movement or handling a soiled diaper.

Gastroenteritis caused by viruses may last one to two days. However, some bacterial cases can continue for a longer period of time. The inflammation is caused most often by an infection from certain viruses or less often by bacteria, their toxins (e.g. SEB), parasites, or an adverse reaction to something in the diet or medication. At least 50% of cases of gastroenteritis resulting from foodborne illness are caused by norovirus. Another 20% of cases, and the majority of severe cases in children, are due to rotavirus. Other significant viral agents include adenovirus and astrovirus.


Gastroenteritis affects both the stomach and the intestines, resulting in both vomiting and diarrhea.

Common gastroenteritis symptoms:

  • Low grade fever upto 1000 F (37.70 C)
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Mild-to-moderate diarrhea
  • Crampy painful abdominal bloating (The cramps may come in cycles, increasing in severity until a loose bowel movement occurs and the pain resolves somewhat.)

More serious symptoms of gastroenteritis :

  • Blood in vomit or stool (Blood in vomit or stool is never normal)
  • Vomiting more than 48 hours
  • Fever higher than 101 F (40 C)
  • Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain
  • Dehydration - weakness, lightheadedness, decreased urination, dry skin, dry mouth and lack of sweat and tears are characteristic signs and symptoms.

How is it diagnosed?

Information in the medical history that may be helpful in the diagnosis of gastroenteritis include:

  • Travel history: Travel may suggest E. coli bacterial infection or a parasite infection from something the patient ate or drank. Norovirus infections tend to occur when many people are confined to a close space (for example, cruise ship).
  • Exposure to poisons or other irritants: Swimming in contaminated water or drinking from suspicious fresh water such as mountain streams or wells may indicate infection with Giardia - an organism found in water that causes diarrhea.
  • Diet change, food preparation habits, and storage: When the disease occurs following exposure to undercooked or improperly stored or prepared food (for example foods at picnics and BBQs that should be refrigerated to avoid contamination), food poisoning must be considered. In general, symptoms caused by bacteria or their toxins will become apparent after the following amount of time.

Gastroenteritis Prevention:

With most infections, the key is to block the spread of the organism.

  • Always wash your hands.
  • Eat properly prepared and stored food.
  • Bleach soiled laundry.

Gastroenteritis Medical Treatment

  • Seeking medical attention, if the patient cannot take fluids by mouth because of vomiting, the health care practitioner may insert an IV replace fluid back into the body (rehydration).
  • In infants, depending upon the level of dehydration, Upon intravenous fluids may be delayed to consider trying oral rehydration therapy. Frequent feedings, as small as a 1/6 ounce (5 cc) at a time, may be used to restore hydration.

How can homeopathy help?

Gastroenteritis can become very serious in infants, young children, people with compromised immune systems and older adults. Homeopathy is a natural system of medicine. It aims at correcting the immune mechanism of the individual and thereby corrects the underlying morbid disorder that is causing the symptoms of gastroenteritis.

With continued homeopathic treatment, excellent results are seen to be obtained. Its therapeutics are not only effective in controlling the acute episodes, but also help in preventing the relapse and recurrence of the condition.