Information for Patients
Have you ever had the "stomach flu?" What you probably had was gastroenteritis - not a type of flu at all. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasites. Viral gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the U.S. The cause is often a norovirus infection. It spreads through contaminated food or water or by contact with an infected person. The best prevention is frequent hand washing.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. Most people recover with no treatment.
The most common problem with gastroenteritis is dehydration. This happens if you do not drink enough fluids to replace what you lose through vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration is most common in babies, young children, older adults, and people with weak immune systems.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Salmonella is the name of a group of bacteria. In the United States, it is a common cause of foodborne illness. Salmonella occurs in raw poultry, eggs, beef, and sometimes on unwashed fruit and vegetables. You also can get infected after handling pets, especially reptiles like snakes, turtles, and lizards.
- Abdominal cramps
- Possible nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
Symptoms usually last 4-7 days. Your health care provider diagnoses the infection with a stool test. Most people get better without treatment. Infection can be more serious in older adults, infants, and people with chronic health problems. If Salmonella gets into the bloodstream, it can be serious. The usual treatment is antibiotics.
Typhoid fever, a more serious disease caused by Salmonella, is not common in the United States. It frequently occurs in developing countries.
NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases