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
Rotavirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and dehydration. Almost all children in the U.S. are likely to be infected with rotavirus before their 5th birthday.
Infections happen most often in the winter and spring. It is very easy for children with the virus to spread it to other children and sometimes to adults. Once a child gets the virus, it takes about two days to become sick. Vomiting and diarrhea may last from three to eight days.
There is no medicine to treat it. To prevent dehydration, have your child drink plenty of liquids. Your health care provider may recommend oral rehydration drinks. Some children need to go to the hospital for IV fluids. Two vaccines against rotavirus infections are available.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention