Gastroenteritis in Adults and Older Children - Topic Overview
When should you call a doctor?
You can usually
take care of gastroenteritis at home.
- But call911or other emergency services immediately if:
- You have signs of severe dehydration. These include little
or no urine; sunken eyes, no tears, and a dry mouth and tongue; fast breathing
and heartbeat; feeling very dizzy or lightheaded; and not feeling or acting
- You think you may have food poisoning from a canned food
and you have symptoms of botulism (blurred or double vision, trouble swallowing
or breathing, muscle weakness).
- Call your doctor immediately if:
- Severe diarrhea (large amounts of loose stool every 1 to 2
hours) lasts longer than 2 days in an adult.
- Vomiting lasts longer than 1 day in an adult.
- You are pregnant and believe that you have been exposed to
toxoplasmosis. For more information on toxoplasmosis,
see the topic
Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.
- You have sudden, severe belly pain.
stools are black and tarry or they have streaks of blood.
- Talk to your doctor if:
- You have symptoms of mild dehydration (dry mouth, dark
urine, not much urine) that get worse even with home treatment.
- You have a fever that lasts more than 1 or 2 days.
- You are not feeling better after 1 week of home
How can you prevent gastroenteritis?
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
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.
prevent food poisoning by taking steps to make sure your food is not
- Wash cutting boards and countertops often with hot, soapy
water. Consider using disinfectant sprays or wipes on your counters.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Do not eat meats, dressings, salads, or other foods that have
been kept at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Use a thermometer to check your refrigerator. It should be
between 34°F (1.1°C) and
- Defrost meats in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the
- Cook meat until it is well done.
- Do not eat raw eggs or uncooked sauces made with raw eggs.
- Do not take chances. If food looks or tastes spoiled, throw it
- Be extra careful when you travel. In some countries, you may
not want to drink water from the tap (including ice cubes) or eat any raw