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Gastroenteritis, often referred to as “stomach flu” or “gastric flu” is typically caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites in water or in contaminated food, or through contact with an infected person.


Our experts explore causes, symptoms and lifestyle changes for gastroenteritis. You can also use our Q&A service to ask a question about gastroenteritis.

What causes gastroenteritis?

The bacteria that cause gastroenteritis (e.g., E.coli, campylobacter, shigella and salmonella) migh come from contaminated food, such as incorrectly cooked meats or food prepared in an unhygienic environment.It can spread like cold or flu, as the bacteria pass from an infected person to a healthy person.

At the same time, many cases are caused by viruses, such as norovirus, Norwalk-type viruses, adenovirus, rotavirus, calcivirus and astrovirus. This type of gastroenteritis spreads rapidly, especially in cases of lax personal hygiene (e.g., when hand-washing is neglected).

Parasites like Giarda or Cryptosporidium, often found in less developed countries, can also cause gastroenteritis.

What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?

Symptoms include:

  • abdominal cramps
  • stomach pains
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Depending on the particular parasites involved, it can also be accompanied by a fever, headache and swollen glands or lymph nodes.

In severe cases, an infected person can suffer dehydration because of the loss of bodily fluids, which can be very serious.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • dry eyes
  • vertigo
  • intense thirst
  • dry mouth and nasal passages
  • loss of skin elasticity
  • and reduced production or both urine and tears

How can gastroenteritis be avoided?

Good personal hygiene and proper care when preparing food are essential in avoiding gastroenteritis.

Once infected, it is important to avoid dehydration, which can be dangerous or even deadly in extreme cases.

Most natural products on the market require a certain amount of time to be effective and that means that a person continues to suffer from the illness while waiting- sometimes for days. Even worse, if the cause of the gastroenteritis is viral, it can be nearly impossible for others in the house to avoid infection.

When should you see a doctor?

Consult a doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Diarrhea that lasts four more than 5 days without improvement
  • Fever (more than 38C or 100F) in combination with diarrhea
  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours without improvement

What do you think?

Have you found what you read useful? If so, I would love if you would leave your comment below. Thanks Sonia Chartier

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