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Gastroenteritis – Causes and Symptoms of Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is a condition that causes inflammation and irritation of the digestive tract. Digestive tract includes stomach and intestine. The illness often goes away in 1 to 2 days and rarely lasts longer. Though it does not cause any life-threatening conditions, experiencing the condition is itself miserable.

Gastroenteritis is characterized by vomiting or nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and sometimes fever. It is otherwise called as stomach flu and generally spreads through contact with an infected person or contaminated food. It may also lead to disease conditions like viral hepatitis, cholera and acute gastroenteritis.

Causes of Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is often due to infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and food-borne illnesses. There are many causes of gastroenteritis.

Viruses – Viruses are the most common causes for gastroenteritis and accounts for about 50 to 70 % cases in adults. The various viruses that cause gastroenteritis are:
Noroviruses
Rotaviruses
Astroviruses
Parvoviruses
Adenoviruses

Bacteria –
Bacteria infects the walls of digestive tracts
Escherichia coli bacteria affects kidney function.
Staphylococcus bacteria may release toxins in the stomach and cause food poisoning
Bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella and Clostridium difficile are other causes

Parasites – Parasites cause gastroenteritis to a lesser extent. Swimming pools are the common areas where parasites live. The common parasites are Cryptosporidium, Giardia.

Other causes – Chemical toxins present in medications, antibiotics, heavy metals and food allergies also cause gastroenteritis.

Symptoms of gastroenteritis
The common symptoms of gastroenteritis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal cramping

The additional symptoms of gastroenteritis are:

  • Weight loss
  • Blood vomiting
  • Poor feeding
  • Muscle pain
  • Stool leakage
  • Joints stiffness
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dry skin
  • Chills

When to see a doctor
Consult a doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Continuous dehydration for over six hours
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Severe rectal and abdominal pain
  • High fever with 101 degrees
  • Blood or mucus in stools
  • Common symptoms persisting for more than 48 hours

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