Primary Care Doctor, General Practice


Introduction to Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is a common condition that causes vomiting and diarrhoea, often called a tummy bug or the stomach flu.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is a common condition that causes vomiting and diarrhoea, often called a tummy bug or the stomach flu. The main cause of gastroenteritis is usually a bacteria or a virus. It can affect people of all ages, but it is particularly common in young children.

Gastroenteritis is contagious and so if you experience vomiting and/or diarrhoea you should stay at home and rest until you are feeling better, going to the GP’s can put other people at risk of getting it. Gastroenteritis can leave you feeling very washed out, but it usually clears itself up within a week.

What causes Gastroenteritis?

The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a virus. The main types are rotavirus and norovirus. Some bacteria can also cause gastroenteritis, for example E. coli or salmonella.

What are the symptoms of Gastroenteritis?

The main symptoms of gastroenteritis are diarrhoea and vomiting, which can sometimes be accompanied by a fever. Some people also report feeling nauseous, a loss of appetite, aching limbs and a headache; these are normally caused by dehydration because you lose a lot of fluids through diarrhoea and vomiting.

How is Gastroenteritis treated?

You do not usually need to get medical help for gastroenteritis unless your symptoms don’t improve after a few days. Unfortunately there is not a treatment for gastroenteritis, you just have to rest and let the illness run its course, but there are some things you can do to feel a bit better. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids, as you risk becoming dehydrated. Water is best, but you can drink soup or fruit juice if you wish. You can take mild pain relief like paracetamol for any aches or pains; try to avoid ibuprofen as it can irritate the stomach. Get plenty of rest and if you feel like eating, stick to small portions of plain food such as bread, rice, pasta. You should seek medical attention if your symptoms don’t improve after a few days, if you notice blood in your poo or vomit or if your fever is over 38C.

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