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What is Acute gastroenteritis?

  • Acute gastroenetritis is a condition often characterized by sudden onset of diarrhea associated with sometimes abdominal pain, vomiting and  fever and it can be caused by bacteria or  viruses most commonly and rarely by parasites.

  • Absence of hand hygiene and eating food that is undercooked, stored too long at room temperature, or not reheated properly or drinking water from a pool  can cause  gastroenteritis.

  • Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

  • Staying hydrated and eating foods with potassium may help symptoms in mild cases.

  • Antibiotics are  often not indicated but this should be decided by your healthcare provider 

Bacterial gastroenteritis happens when bacteria cause an infection in your gut. This causes inflammation in your stomach and intestines. the Toxic substances produced even after bacteria are dead can also cause symptoms. You may experience symptoms like vomiting, severe abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.


Viruses cause many gastrointestinal infections, bacterial infections are also common. Some people call this infection “food poisoning.”

Bacterial gastroenteritis can result from poor hygiene. Infection can also occur after close contact with animals or consuming food or water contaminated with bacteria (or the toxic substances bacteria produce).

Symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis

Bacterial gastroenteritis symptoms vary depending on the bacteria causing your infection. The symptoms may include:

  • loss of appetite

  • nausea and vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • abdominal pains and cramps

  • blood in your stools

  • fever

Call your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after five days (two days for children). If a child older than three months continues to vomit after 12 hours, call a doctor. If a baby younger than three months has diarrhea or vomiting, call your doctor.

Treating bacterial gastroenteritis

Treatment is meant to keep you hydrated and avoid complications. It’s important not to lose too much salt, such as sodium and potassium. Your body needs these in certain amounts in order to function properly.

If you have a serious case of bacterial gastroenteritis, you may be admitted to the hospital and given fluids and salts intravenously. Antibiotics are usually reserved for the most severe cases.

Home remedies for mild cases

If you have a milder case, you may be able to treat your illness at home. Try the following:

  • Drink fluids regularly throughout the day, especially after bouts of diarrhea.

  • Eat little and often, and include some salty foods.

  • Consume foods or drinks with potassium, such as fruit juice and bananas.

  • Don’t take any medications without asking your doctor.

  • Go to the hospital if you can’t keep any fluids down.

A few ingredients you may have at home can help keep your electrolytes balanced and treat diarrhea. Ginger can help combat infection and make stomach or abdominal pain less severe. Apple cider vinegar and basil can also soothe your stomach as well as strengthen your stomach against future infections.

Avoid eating dairy, fruit, or high-fiber foods to keep diarrhea from getting worse.

Over-the-counter medicines that neutralize your stomach acid can help fight these infections. Medicines that treat symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pains can help ease the stress and pain of the infection. Don’t take over-the-counter treatments unless your doctor tells you to do so.

Causes of bacterial gastroenteritis

Numerous bacteria can cause gastroenteritis, including:

  • yersinia, found in pork

  • staphylococcus, found in dairy products, meat, and eggs

  • shigella, found in water (often swimming pools)

  • salmonella, found in meat, dairy products, and eggs

  • campylobacter, found in meat and poultry

  • E. coli, found in ground beef and salads

  • Clostridium difficile, generally called C diff, or C diff associated diarrhea,  is another cause of contagious gastrointestinal colitis that generally occurs after Antibiotics use; it can occur even after appropriate antibiotic use. It is crucial to avoid inappropriate antibiotic use to the extent possible to avoid this potentially life-threatening infection that requires special types of antibiotics and sometimes surgery in extreme cases when the patient waits to long to initiate treatment or the immune system is already compromised. 

  • Washing hands with soap and water are especially important to prevent transmission of C diff 

Bacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks can happen when restaurants serve contaminated food to many people. An outbreak can also trigger recalls of produce and other foods.

Bacterial gastroenteritis can be easily transmitted from person to person if someone carries the bacteria on their hands. Every time a person infected with this bacteria touches food, objects, or other people, they risk spreading the infection to others. You can even cause the infection to get into your own body if you touch your eyes, mouth, or other open parts of your body with infected hands.

Keep in mind that not all cases of bacterial gastroenteritis require antibiotics and also that 

You’re especially at risk for these infections if you travel a lot or live in a crowded area. Washing your hands often and using hand sanitizer with more than 60 percent of alcohol can help you avoid catching infections from the people around you.

Consult a doctor for medical advice or visit us at PEOPLE CARE INSTITUTE for more information


Note: The information you see here is general and describes what usually happens with a medical condition, but doesn't apply to everyone. This information IS NOT  a substitute for professional medical advice, so please make sure to contact a healthcare provider if you have a medical problem. 

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