Gastroenteritis Symptoms and Treatment in Adults

Today we will talk about gastroenteritis , a disease caused by bacteria that are transmitted in various ways, the most common being poor food hygiene. In this article you will learn more about this disease, its symptoms, recommendations and why it is currently affecting many people.

Although the first symptoms of this condition may be mistaken for an upset stomach at the moment, any suspicion should not be ruled out. Many people when they suffer from diarrhea, vomiting or pain in general, without realizing it, associate it with a temporary discomfort that will soon disappear.

However, when they realize that the symptoms last for several days and the pain begins to feel sharp and bothersome, that is when they react and decide to pay attention to it. In this part, it is advisable to visit your doctor to begin to properly treat this discomfort.

What is Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis comprises epithelial inflammation of the digestive tract (stomach, small and large intestine) characterized mainly by vomiting and diarrhea ; also known as the stomach flu . More than 90% of the cases are due to microbial infections, the majority of which are caused by viruses; of which the immune system recovers spontaneously after a couple of days.


The incidence in the world population predominates in developing countries (Latin America, Africa and Asia) associated with unsanitary living conditions, where accessibility to drinking water and food is not guaranteed.

The infection occurs when the bacteria injure the gastric mucosa, resulting in abdominal swelling and swelling. This disease is caused by the contamination of food and beverages, by fecal or oral contact, the abuse of analgesic medications, alcohol and stress.

Depending on the infectious microorganism that causes it, it can be classified into:

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  • Bacterial gastroenteritis: bacteria such as Shigella, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Clostridium, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus, etc.
  • Viral gastroenteritis: Involved viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, sapovirus, and astrovirus, etc.
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The most affected risk groups are children (under 5) and the elderly in: nursing homes, day care centers, hospitals, reception centers. Also immunosuppressed and travelers (40% of tourists in endemic areas).

Gastroenteritis Symptoms  and How It Is Spread


Infection is by the fecal-oral route through contaminated food, either by microorganisms or toxins from these. Most cases are viral in nature (rotavirus and norovirus). Among other causes there are:

  • Consumption of poisonous mushrooms or berries
  • Massive intake of alcohol or laxatives
  • Food intolerance (dairy, gluten)
  • Heavy metal intake
  • Side effects of certain drugs (NSAIDs)

Symptoms of Viral Gastritis 

  • Loss of appetite and fatigue.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Colic and abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea (may be accompanied by blood or mucus).
  • Allergies or exaggerated sensitivity to certain foods.
  • Fever, chills, and sweating.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Weightloss.

Diarrhea is more than three liquid stools a day. Depending on the duration it is classified as watery, persistent or chronic.

Diarrhea can be watery by releasing chlorine and sodium with subsequent water carry-over; produced by bacteria such as: Escherichia coli  (traveler’s diarrhea), Vibrio cholerae (cholera) or Shigella spp. Other bacteria cause an injury to the intestinal wall, causing the loss of fluid with a high protein content; sometimes these are accompanied by mucus and blood (dysenteric diarrhea); Salmonella  or Campylobacter stand out here .

Among the most common parasites that cause this disease are Giardia lamblia  and Crytosporidium, which adhere to the intestine, also causing the collapse of the digestive system.

Dehydration: an alarm!

Diarrhea in children and the elderly for more than two days should be carefully monitored to avoid severe dehydration. Certain signs indicate this body fluid decompensation:

  • Sticky saliva, dry lips.
  • Loss of elasticity in the skin, when folding it takes longer to return to normal.
  • Urine scanty, yellowish and concentrated.
  • Sunken eye cavities.
  • Sinking fontanelles in infants.
  • Hypotension: high levels of weakness (implies severity).

Call your doctor , if the symptoms do not disappear after five days in a healthy person or two days for children, in the case of babies younger or older than 3 months, if they continue to vomit or have diarrhea after 12 hours call your physician, this disease should not be neglected.

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How is Gastroenteritis transmitted?

There are different ways to spread gastroenteritis, so it is necessary to know them to take the necessary precautions to prevent it.

  1. Drink contaminated water.
  2. When someone infected, they do not wash their hands after using the bathroom and handle food or shake hands with someone. We can easily catch it.
  3. Eating contaminated food that is not washed properly.
  4. When you sneeze or cough and it comes from an infected person, what happens is that the flux of the virus remains in the air, and then it can be aspirated.
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How to avoid gastroenteritis.

Without a doubt, personal hygiene plays a very fundamental role in preventing it. Here are some effective tips for you.

  • Insist on frequent hand washing with soap and water in the family, after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, handling animals, and before meals or preparing food.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid close contact with people with symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Wash fruits, vegetables, and salads properly before eating.
  • Store foods properly, and discard those that are out of date or contaminated.
  • Constantly disinfect the bathrooms and kitchen.

It is important to pay attention to this disease in the first days, if you have any symptoms, it is necessary to visit the doctor and follow the treatment that has been prescribed, if it cannot lead to acute gastroenteritis.

Treatment to Cure Viral Gastritis

After the anamnesis, the doctor will be able to orient himself with the duration and characteristics of the diarrhea, to distinguish if it is caused by food poisoning or by an infection. If infectious, he will request a stool test to identify the pathogen.

Viral gastroenteritis that disappears spontaneously (in 2 days); they are treated with rest and rehydrating serums to compensate for the loss. An example of these serums includes: 1 liter of water, two carrots, a piece of brown sugar, a pinch of salt and bicarbonate (minimum one sip every 10 min). The consumption of prebiotics and natural yogurts is also recommended to replenish the intestinal flora.

Bacterial and parasitic gastroenteritis that last more than a week, are treated with medications once the stool examination has been carried out, when the microorganism is identified, to avoid creating resistant strains. Diphenoxylate, loperamide, racecadotril, bismuth subsalicylate, antibiotics, and antiparasitics are usually prescribed.

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Rotavirus vaccination is also a treatment for the elderly and children . Severe cases of decompensation are rehydrated parenterally in medical centers

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Stopping eating does not help to improve diarrhea, on the contrary, the body will be weaker to fight the infection.

An appropriate diet for gastroenteritis should include foods low in fiber, which are astringent , combined with good hydration through isotonic drinks or oral serums. Rest and a liquid diet are essential to speed recovery.

Recommendations to keep in mind.

Diet is the basis for a speedy recovery; It consists of avoiding: unnatural foods, consuming astringent and hydrating fruits (apple, pineapple, melon), vegetables (carrot, potatoes, banana), fish, eggs and lean meats.

Do not forget the hygienic rules to avoid the spread of contagion. Avoid eating away from home in restaurants or fast foods, where health conditions cannot be assured.

Fruits that contain a lot of fiber, such as kiwis or plums, should be avoided for at least the first 5 days of the disease.

Likewise, chocolates, sweets, legumes or green vegetables, oranges, fatty meats, sausages, spicy and fried, because all this will irritate the intestinal walls and accelerate the symptoms.

In general, this condition can be treated at home and the symptoms can disappear in 2 to 5 days, however, when they become severe, then it is necessary to go to your doctor to receive effective treatment.

Also the infusions help , as well as control stress, through meditation or yoga at the end they become very rewarding. Here are some natural remedies that can be very effective in alleviating this problem.

Natural remedies that will help you. 

  1. Fasting pericon infusion.
  2. Lemon tea with cinnamon.
  3. Infusion of oregano with pomegranate.
  4. Enemas with water of mugwort.

If you liked this article, you can continue browsing my blog, so that you can find out about other conditions related to gastritis or heartburn, remember that prevention is better than cure.

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