Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the stomach, intestines, or both.There are many causes of gastroenteritis; the most numerous cases are caused by viruses, followed by bacteria and other agents.
The major symptoms of gastroenteritis are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps; symptoms usually self-resolve in 2 to 5 days. The majority of gastroenteritis disease is very contagious, especially those caused by viruses and bacteria; a few causes of gastroenteritis are not contagious.
Gastroenteritis usually is not a serious illness unless the affected person becomes dehydrated or an elderly person becomes infected with Norovirus and especially,Clostridium difficile.
What is the treatment?
Although most people with gastroenteritis require no formal treatment, the key to a more rapid and safe recovery is good hydration. Home treatment consists of adequate fluid intake so that dehydration is prevented. The recommended fluids are clear fluids (Pedialyte, especially for young children, Gatorade, Powerade, and other similar drinks) but not fruit juices or milk. If dehydration occurs, the affected individual should be evaluated by a health care practitioner, who is likely to begin IV rehydration, the treatment of choice for rapid rehydration.
Medications may be prescribed to reduce the symptoms of gastroenteritis, for example, promethazine (Phenergan), prochlorperazine (Compazine) or ondansetron (Zofran) may be prescribed to reduce vomiting.. Others may prescribe diphenoxylate and atropine (Lomotil) or loperamide (Imodium) to slow diarrhea. Many clinicians simply suggest no treatment for gastroenteritis symptoms as all of the drugs have side effects, and the clinicians figure that if the patient stays well hydrated, the symptoms will soon stop anyway.