Gastroenteritis is an upset stomach. It causes nausea and vomiting. You may also have diarrhea or a fever. It is sometimes called "stomach flu," but it is not the flu. Germs like viruses and bacteria can cause it.
You can catch it from someone else who has it, or you can get it from food poisoning. Food poisoning can happen if you eat foods that contain harmful germs. Germs can get into food while the food is growing, during processing, or when it is prepared. You may have become ill after eating meat or eggs that weren't cooked enough or by eating other unsafe foods or drinking unsafe water.
You will probably begin to feel better in 1 or 2 days, but you might feel bad for a week. In the meantime, get plenty of rest, and make sure you do not become dehydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much fluid. This can happen when you throw up a lot or have diarrhea.
You can usually take care of gastroenteritis at home.
The best thing you can do to keep from catching gastroenteritis from someone else is to make a habit of washing your hands often. This is especially important after you use the bathroom, after you change a baby's diaper, and before you eat or prepare food.
Don't share personal items like forks and spoons, toothbrushes, and towels. Try not to be around others who have stomach flu. Keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
You can prevent food poisoning by taking steps to make sure your food is not contaminated:
Other Works Consulted
- De Bruyn G (2008). Diarrhoea in adults (acute), search date January 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
- Goldberg MB (2006). Gastroenteritis section of Enteric infections due to Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, Vibrio, and Helicobacter. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 7, chap. 9. New York: WebMD.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology|
|Last Revised||September 20, 2012|
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