Gastroenteritis in Adults and Older Children - Topic Overview
What is gastroenteritis?
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.
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.
What should you do at home?
- Drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other caffeine-free
clear liquids until you feel better. If you have kidney, heart, or liver
disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase how
much fluid you drink.
- Drink fluids slowly, in frequent, small amounts. Drinking too
much too fast can cause vomiting.
- Electrolytes should also be replaced, especially if vomiting or
diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours. Electrolytes are minerals in your blood
that keep many systems in your body working smoothly. If you have a long period
of vomiting and diarrhea, you can lose minerals. Sports drinks, which contain a
mix of salt, sugar, and minerals, may help replace electrolytes.
- When you feel like eating, start with mild foods, such as dry
toast, yogurt, applesauce, bananas, and rice. Avoid spicy, hot, or high-fat
foods, and do not drink alcohol or caffeine for a day or two. Do not drink milk
or eat ice cream or other dairy foods until you are feeling better.