What is Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is an extremely infectious disease which causes diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.  According to WedMD.com, your stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed. The cause is typically a viral or bacterial infection. It is called by many familiar names, including:

  • Stomach Bug
  • Stomach Virus
  • Stomach Flu
  • Gastric Flu

Despite the many names it goes by, gastroenteritis is not caused by the influenza virus, although it is usually viral in nature. Worldwide, there are an estimated three to five billion cases every year. The condition can be serious if left untreated.


The causes may be viral, bacterial, or parasitic, although viral gastroenteritis is by far the most common variety. Children usually contract the condition through the rotavirus, whereas adults are most likely to be affected by the norovirus or Campylobacter (a strain of bacteria). Because it’s so contagious, the rotavirus vaccine is recommended for all children.

In the United States, most adults develop gastroenteritis as a result of norovirus. Outbreaks generally occur when people are in close proximity to one another and in the presence of an infected person, as sometimes happens on cruise ships, in hospitals, or at restaurants. Bacterial infections, although they only account for a small percentage of cases, are usually caused by exposure to raw or undercooked poultry, meat, and seafood; unpasteurized dairy products; and fruit and vegetable juices.

Cases caused by parasites are extremely rare in the United States. Other causes may include Crohn’s disease, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and certain medications. These causes are not contagious.


Gastroenteritis is marked by an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which causes diarrhea and/or vomiting. Some patients also experience:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Abdominal Pain

Symptoms usually develop sometime between a few hours and a few days after the initial infection. Gastroenteritis usually clears up in a day or two, although the infection can last up to ten days.

The most serious side-effect of gastroenteritis is dehydration. Diarrhea and vomiting cause your body to lose a large amount of fluid. For this reason, it is important to drink plenty of fluids and replenish electrolytes.

How to Treat Gastroenteritis

Treatment for gastroenteritis usually focuses on managing your symptoms until the infection resolves on its own. In most cases, this means replenishing fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration. You may become dehydrated because of fluid lost to vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination, or sweating. This condition may also cause dehydration because nausea and discomfort prevent you from drinking enough water.

If your dehydration is severe, Dr. Tabib may use intravenous fluids to rehydrate you. Even in mild cases, it is important to get plenty of fluids and reintroduce food gradually, usually starting with bland and easy-to-digest foods. Caffeine, dairy, and alcohol should be avoided until symptoms subside. And, of course, get plenty of rest.

Today, gastroenterology conditions can be treated effectively. if diagnosed early with a colonscopy, these cancers can be cured with excellent outcomes. We provide everyone a personalized gastroenterology treatment plan to meet your unique needs and improve your quality of life. Contact our gastroenterology and hepatology center to schedule a consolation with Los Angeles’ preferred Gastroenterologist– Dr. Tabib.

Dr. Tabib’s completed his postgraduate fellowship, residency, and internships at the UCLA/Cedar-Sinai Medical Center.

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Siamak Tabib, M.D., Inc.
8631 W 3rd St Suite 1015E,
Los Angeles, CA 90048

(310) 683-4911

    Voted Best Gastroenterologist in Los Angeles


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