Gastroenteritis is an infection of the gut (intestines) with viruses, bacteria or other microbes. You may develop diarrhoea, sickness (vomiting), tummy (abdominal) pain and other symptoms.
Gastroenteritis is a horrible experience with only one upside - it does give you a justified reason for a few duvet days. The downside is that you'll spend most of that time in the loo, having the runs and puking. Gastroenteritis is an infection of the gut with microbes, which usually causes a mild tummy upset for a day or two.
However, there is a more severe form that sticks around for several days. Apart from the watery poo and throwing up, you get blood in the poo and tummy pains for no extra charge. Sometimes a high temperature (fever), aching limbs and headache are added extras.
When do I need to see a doctor?
You need to seek medical advice if you think you are becoming dehydrated, you're throwing up a lot and can't keep fluids down, you have blood in your poo or sick (vomit), or you have severe tummy pains. A persistent high temperature (fever) or diarrhoea or puking that lasts longer than expected are other reasons to contact the doc. Also, if you're elderly, have a long-term condition such as diabetes, are pregnant or have trouble with your immune system, don't hesitate to get in touch with a health professional.
Further reading and references
Freeman MC, Stocks ME, Cumming O, et al; Hygiene and health: systematic review of handwashing practices worldwide and update of health effects. Trop Med Int Health. 2014 Aug19(8):906-16. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12339. Epub 2014 May 28.
Acute diarrhoea in adults: racecadotril; NICE Evidence Summary New Medicine, March 2013
Gastroenteritis; NICE CKS, July 2015 (UK access only)
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