Gastroenteritis, also known as infectious diarrhea, is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that involves the stomach and small intestine. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Fever, lack of energy, and dehydration may also occur. This typically lasts less than two weeks. It is not related to influenza though it has been called the “stomach flu”.
Prevention includes hand washing with soap, drinking clean water, proper disposal of human waste, and breastfeeding babies instead of using formula. The rotavirus vaccine is recommended in children. Treatment involves getting enough fluids. For mild or moderate cases, this can typically be achieved by drinking oral rehydration solution (a combination of water, salts, and sugar). In those who are breast fed, continued breastfeeding is recommended. For more severe cases, intravenous fluids may be needed. Fluids may also be given by a nasogastric tube. Zinc supplementation is recommended in children. Antibiotics are generally not needed.