Infectious diarrhea - bacterial gastroenteritis; Acute gastroenteritis; Gastroenteritis - bacterial
Bacterial gastroenteritis is inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by bacteria.
Many different types of bacteria can cause bacterial gastroenteritis, including:
Bacterial gastroenteritis can affect one person or a group of people who all ate the same food containing the bacteria. The condition more commonly occurs after eating at picnics, school cafeterias, large social functions, or restaurants.
Bacteria may get into your food in different ways:
Food poisoning often occurs from eating or drinking:
Symptoms depend on the type of bacteria that caused the sickness. All types of food poisoning cause diarrhea. Other symptoms include:
Your health care provider will examine you for signs of food poisoning, such as pain in the stomach and signs your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. This is called dehydration.
Laboratory tests may be done on the food or a stool sample to determine what bacteria is causing your symptoms.
You will usually recover from the most common types of bacterial gastroenteritis within a couple of days. The goal is to make you feel better and avoid dehydration.
These things may help you feel better if you have diarrhea:
Give your child fluids for the first 4 to 6 hours. At first, try 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of fluid every 30 to 60 minutes.
Try an over-the-counter drink, such as Pedialyte or Infalyte. Do not water down these drinks. Pedialyte is also available as a popsicle.
Watered-down fruit juice, or broth, may also help.
See also: Diarrhea in children
If you have diarrhea and are unable to drink fluids because of nausea or vomiting, you may need to go to the hospital to receive fluids through a vein (IV). This is especially true for young children.
If you take diuretics, talk to your health care provider. You may need to stop taking the diuretic while you are sick. Never stop or change medications without talking to your health care provider and getting specific instructions.
Antibiotics are usually not prescribed for most common types of bacterial gastroenteritis, unless the diarrhea is extremely severe.
Do not use over-the-counter medicines to treat diarrhea without talking to your doctor first. They should not be given to children.
Most of the time, you get better within a week if you drink enough fluids.
Rarely, kidney failure or death have occured in people with bacterial gastroenteritis.
Complications may include:
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have:
Also call your doctor if:
Schiller LR, Sellin JH. Diarrhea. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 15.
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