Gastroenteritis is an irritation and infection of the digestive tract. It can often cause sudden and sometimes violent upsets and may be confused with spastic colitis. It affects all ages. It is the second most common disease in the U.S. The disease may be particularly severe in infants and the elderly or debilitated. In these conditions, the disorder can lead to dehydration, electrolytes abnormalities and death. The disease primarily caused by viruses. Bacterial infections and food poisoning can produce somewhat similar symptoms.
Causes of Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis can be produced from numerous causes. They include viruses, particularly Rotavirus and Norwalk Virus. Bacterial infections develop from Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella and Escherichia coli. Parasitic infections develop from Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica and Cryptosporidium. Toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Clostridium botulinum, Salmonella, E Coli and Compylobacter jejuni can all produce food poisoning. Contaminated food or water, food poisoning, use of harsh laxatives, change in bacteria that normally live in the intestinal tract, chemical toxins in certain plants, seafood, or contaminated food, and heavy metal poisoning all can lead to gastroenteritis.
Signs and Symptoms of Gastroenteritis
The symptoms of acute viral gastroenteritis include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and loss of appetite. There usually is mild fever, generalized abdominal discomfort and cramps. Headaches and muscle cramps can also occur. Bacterial causes of infectious gastroenteritis are self-limited. They can occur from contamination of things we eat, or can be transmitted from contaminated areas. Food poisoning can produce symptoms very similar to acute infectious gastroenteritis. There is sometimes a relationship to those that ate the same food. They symptoms usually pass quite quickly. Parasitic infections can also lead to gastroenteritis They may lead to protracted symptoms, particularly with diarrhea.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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