What is enteritis

Enteritis is inflammation of the small intestine. It is usually caused by eating or drinking substances contaminated with bacteria or viruses. The germs settle in the small intestine and causes inflammation and swelling which may lead to abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration.

Symptoms most often go away without treatment in a few days in otherwise healthy people.

When to contact a medical professional

See your doctor if:

  • You become dehydrated.
  • Diarrhea does not go away in 3 to 4 days.
  • Diarrhea with a fever over 101 °F (38.3 °C) or 100.4°F (38 °C) in children
  • You have blood or pus in your stools, or your stool is black
  • Recently traveled to a foreign country and developed diarrhea
  • Stomach pain that does not go away after a bowel movement
  • Symptoms of dehydration (thirst, dizziness, lightheadedness)

Also see your doctor if:

  • The diarrhea gets worse or does not get better in 2 days for an infant or child
  • A child over 3 months old has been vomiting for more than 12 hours; in younger babies, call as soon as vomiting or diarrhea begins
  • Your child is very young or small (aged below 6 months or weighs less than 8 kg)
  • Your child is born preterm, or has other chronic conditions
  • Your child is passing less than 4 wet nappies/day
  • You or your child is passing any blood in the stool
  • You or your child is having dark green (bile) vomits
  • You or your child vomits blood
  • You or your child is having severe abdominal pain
  • You or your child is showing signs of dehydration (very thirsty, cold hands and feet, dry lips and tongue, sunken eyes, sunken fontanelle, sleepy or drowsy)
  • You or your child is unable to tolerate any oral intake because of severe vomiting
  • You or your child becomes unusually drowsy
  • Vomiting persists more than two days
  • Diarrhea persists more than several days
  • Diarrhea turns bloody
  • Lightheadedness or fainting occurs with standing
  • Confusion develops
  • Worrisome abdominal pain develops

Types of enteritis

Types of enteritis include:

  • Bacterial gastroenteritis
  • Campylobacter enteritis
  • E-coli enteritis
  • Giardia Lamblia enteritis
  • Food poisoning
  • Radiation enteritis
  • Salmonella enteritis
  • Shigella enteritis
  • Staph aureus food poisoning

Bacterial enteritis

Bacterial gastroenteritis occurs when there is an infection of your stomach and intestines. This is due to bacteria.

Many different types of bacteria can cause bacterial gastroenteritis, including:

  • Botulism (Clostridium species)
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Escherichia coli (E-coli)
  • Listeria
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • Staphylococcus
  • Yersinia
  • Typhoid fever
  • Vibrio causing vibriosis

Bacterial enteritis causes

Bacterial gastroenteritis can affect one person or a group of people who all ate the same food. It is commonly called food poisoning. It often occurs after eating at picnics, school cafeterias, large social gatherings, or restaurants.

Your food may get infected in many ways:

  • Meat or poultry may come into contact with bacteria when the animal is processed.
  • Water that is used during growing or shipping may contain animal or human waste.
  • Improper food handling or preparation may occur in grocery stores, restaurants, or homes.

Food poisoning often occurs from eating or drinking:

  • Food prepared by someone who did not wash their hands properly
  • Food prepared using unclean cooking utensils, cutting boards, or other tools
  • Dairy products or food containing mayonnaise (such as coleslaw or potato salad) that have been out of the refrigerator too long
  • Frozen or refrigerated foods that are not stored at the proper temperature or are not reheated properly
  • Raw shellfish such as oysters or clams
  • Raw fruits or vegetables that have not been washed well
  • Raw vegetable or fruit juices and dairy products (look for the word “pasteurized” to make sure the food is safe to eat or drink)
  • Undercooked meats or eggs
  • Water from a well or stream, or city or town water that has not been treated

Bacterial enteritis symptoms

Bacterial enteritis symptoms depend on the type of bacteria that caused the sickness. All types of food poisoning cause diarrhea. Other symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever

Bacterial enteritis diagnosis

Your health care provider will examine you for signs of food poisoning. These may include pain in the stomach and signs your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should (dehydration).

Lab tests may be done on the food or a stool sample to find out what germ is causing your symptoms. However, these tests do not always show the cause of the diarrhea.

Tests may also be done to look for white blood cells in the stool. This is a sign of infection.

Bacterial enteritis treatment

You will most likely recover from the most common types of bacterial gastroenteritis in a couple of days. The goal is to make you feel better and avoid dehydration.

Drinking enough fluids and learning what to eat will help ease symptoms. You may need to:

  • Manage the diarrhea
  • Control nausea and vomiting
  • Get plenty of rest

If you have diarrhea and are unable to drink or keep down fluids because of nausea or vomiting, you may need fluids through a vein (IV). Young children may be at extra risk of getting dehydrated.

If you take diuretics (“water pills”), or ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure, talk to your provider. You may need to stop taking these medicines while you have diarrhea. Never stop or change your medicines without first talking to your provider.

Antibiotics are not given very often for most common types of bacterial gastroenteritis. If diarrhea is very severe or you have a weak immune system, antibiotics may be needed.

You can buy medicines at the drugstore that can help stop or slow diarrhea. DO NOT give these medicines to children. Do not use these medicines without talking to your doctor if you have:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Fever

Bacterial enteritis prognosis

Most people get better in a few days without treatment.

Certain rare types of E-coli can cause:

  • Severe anemia
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Kidney failure

Radiation enteritis

Radiation enteritis is inflammation of the intestines that occurs after radiation therapy, which is a type of cancer treatment. Radiation enteritis causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps in people receiving radiation aimed at the abdomen, pelvis or rectum. Radiation enteritis is most common in people receiving radiation therapy for cancer in the abdomen and pelvic areas.

For most people, radiation enteritis is temporary and the inflammation usually subsides several weeks after treatment ends. But for some, radiation enteritis may continue long after treatment ends or may develop months or years after treatment. See your doctor if you are having radiation therapy or have had it in the past and are having a lot of diarrhea or stomach pain and cramping.

Chronic radiation enteritis can cause complications such as anemia, diarrhea and partial bowel obstruction.

Treatment typically focuses on relieving signs and symptoms until the inflammation heals. In severe cases, tube feeding or surgery to remove sections of the intestine may be necessary.

Risk factors for radiation enteritis

The risk of radiation enteritis is higher in people undergoing radiation treatments for cancers in the belly and the pelvis. This condition causes irritation of the intestines after radiation therapy for cancer.

Radiation enteritis symptoms

Radiation enteritis symptoms may vary, depending on which part of the intestines received the radiation. Radiation enteritis symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and belly cramps. This condition causes irritation of the intestines after radiation therapy for cancer. Symptoms usually go away several weeks after treatment ends. But sometimes they last longer. Radiation enteritis that goes on for longer can cause anemia and partial bowel obstruction.

Radiation enteritis symptoms can be worse if:

  • You have chemotherapy at the same time as the radiation.
  • You receive stronger doses of radiation.
  • A larger area of your intestines receives radiation.

Radiation enteritis symptoms may occur during or shortly after or long after radiation treatment.

Changes in bowel movements may include:

  • Bleeding or mucus from the rectum
  • Diarrhea or watery stools
  • Feeling the need to have a bowel movement most or all of the time
  • Pain in the rectal area, especially during bowel movements

Other radiation enteritis symptoms can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

Most of the time, these symptoms get better within 2 to 3 months after radiation treatment ends. However, the condition may occur months or years after radiation therapy.

When symptoms become long-term (chronic), other problems may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Greasy or fatty stools
  • Weight loss

Radiation enteritis possible complications

Radiation enteritis complications may include:

  • Bleeding and anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Iron deficiency
  • Malabsorption
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight loss

Radiation enteritis diagnosis

Diagnosis for radiation enteritis might start with a discussion of your medical history and a physical exam. This condition causes irritation of the intestines after radiation therapy for cancer. To see inside your small intestine, your doctor might pass a long flexible tube with a camera down your throat. Or the tube can be passed through your rectum to look at your large intestine. Sometimes doctors use a pill-sized camera that you swallow to create pictures of your intestines. Other tests might include imaging tests like CT and MRI.

Radiation enteritis treatment

Radiation enteritis treatment usually involves things to make you feel better until it goes away. Your doctor might recommend changes to your diet and medicines for diarrhea and pain. If your radiation enteritis lasts longer, you might need a feeding tube. Antibiotics can treat an overgrowth of bacteria. Sometimes surgery is used to bypass the part of your intestine that’s irritated.

Starting a low-fiber diet on the first day of radiation treatment may help you avoid problems. The best choice of foods depends on your symptoms.

Some things can make radiation enteritis symptoms worse, and should be avoided. These include:

  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Almost all milk products
  • Coffee, tea, chocolate, and sodas with caffeine
  • Foods containing whole bran
  • Fresh and dried fruits
  • Fried, greasy, or fatty foods
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn, potato chips, and pretzels
  • Raw vegetables
  • Rich pastries and baked goods
  • Some fruit juices
  • Strong spices

Foods and drinks that are better choices include:

  • Apple or grape juice
  • Applesauce, peeled apples, and bananas
  • Eggs, buttermilk, and yogurt
  • Fish, poultry, and meat that has been broiled or roasted
  • Mild, cooked vegetables, such as asparagus tips, green or black beans, carrots, spinach, and squash
  • Potatoes that have been baked, boiled, or mashed
  • Processed cheeses, such as American cheese
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • White bread, macaroni, or noodles

Your doctor may have you use certain medicines such as:

  • Drugs that help decrease diarrhea, such as loperamide
  • Pain medicines
  • Steroid foam that coats the lining of the rectum
  • Special enzymes to replace enzymes from the pancreas

Other things you can do include:

  • Eat foods at room temperature.
  • Eat small meals more often.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, up to 12 8-ounce (240 milliter) glasses every day when you have diarrhea. Some people will need fluids given through a vein (intravenous fluids).

Your doctor may choose to decrease your radiation for a short period of time.

There often are no good treatments for chronic radiation enteritis that is more severe.

  • Medicines such as cholestyramine, diphenoxylate-atropine, loperamide, or sucralfate may help.
  • You may need to consider surgery to either remove or go around (bypass) a section of damaged intestine.

Radiation enteritis prognosis

When your abdomen receives radiation, there is always some nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In most cases, the symptoms get better within 2 to 3 months after treatment ends.

However, when radiation enteritis develops, symptoms may last for a long period of time. Long-term (chronic) enteritis is rarely curable.

Viral enteritis

Norovirus (previously called Norwalk or Norwalk-like viruses) is a very contagious virus that causes sudden vomiting and diarrhea (acute gastroenteritis), but usually resolves itself within 1 to 3 days without treatment. Norovirus can be more serious for young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions. Norovirus can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and even death.

Norovirus is highly contagious and norovirus is easily spread from person to person, so good hygiene practices are important to prevent others from becoming infected.

Norovirus is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea from acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) among people of all ages in the United States. Each year, on average in the United States, norovirus:

  • causes 19 to 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis
  • leads to 1.7 to 1.9 million outpatient visits and 400,000 emergency department visits, primarily in young children
  • contributes to about 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths, mostly among young children and the elderly.

Norovirus is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis among U.S. children less than 5 years of age who seek medical care. Norovirus is responsible for nearly 1 million pediatric medical care visits annually.

By 5 years of age:

  • an estimated 1 in 278 children will be hospitalized,
  • 1 in 14 will visit an emergency room, and
  • 1 in 6 will receive outpatient care for norovirus illnesses.
  • Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States. It causes 58% of foodborne illnesses acquired in the United States. Each year, norovirus illness costs about $2 billion, mainly due to lost productivity and healthcare expenses in the United States.

You can get norovirus illness at any time during the year. Most norovirus outbreaks in the United States happen from November to April. Also, there can be 50% more norovirus illness in years when there is a new strain of the virus.

Anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus. You can get norovirus from:

  • Having direct contact with an infected person
  • Consuming contaminated food or water
  • Touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth

Norovirus spreads from an infected person to others who have contact with:

  • the infected person’s vomit or feces (poop)
  • their unwashed hands
  • surfaces or objects they have touched
  • food or water they have contaminated.

If you are sick with norovirus, you can spread it to other people by having close contact, such as by caring for, preparing food, or sharing food or eating utensils, with them. You can also spread norovirus by contaminating surfaces. This can happen if you touch surfaces with your unwashed hands, then other people touch these surfaces and put their fingers in their mouths.

Norovirus is particularly likely to cause illness in places such as healthcare and aged care facilities, restaurants, schools and cruise ships. These are closed environments where lots of people eat food prepared by others. One infected person can easily pass the infection to other people.

About 20 million people get sick with norovirus each year in the United States 1. On average, a person will get norovirus about 5 times during their lifetime. People of all ages can get norovirus.

You can get norovirus any time of the year, but you are more likely to get it from November to April. Norovirus is also known as ‘winter vomiting’ because it tends to peak in winter when people stay together indoors. Some other common names for norovirus infection are gastric flu, stomach flu and viral gastro.

Norovirus infection is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms. A formal diagnosis will require laboratory testing of a stool (poop) sample. Public health authorities sometimes request this to help control norovirus outbreak.

Norovirus is highly contagious, so good hygiene is very important. There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection.

To help prevent norovirus infection:

  • wash hands with soap and running water after using the toilet or changing nappies
  • wash hands with soap and water before eating or handling food
  • wash food before eating, especially oysters and shellfish, and fruits and vegetables
  • wash bedding and clothing if they are stained by diarrhea or vomit
  • clean contaminated household surfaces and disinfect with a diluted bleach-based cleaner
  • clean contaminated soft furnishings or carpet with hot water and detergent followed by a steam clean.

If you have been infected, you will still be contagious for a couple of days after the diarrhea or vomiting has stopped. You should stay away from work, or keep an infected child home from childcare or school, until 48 hours after such symptoms have disappeared.

Norovirus infection should only last for a few days. Norovirus infection doesn’t usually require medication.

The most common problem with norovirus infection is dehydration. This happens if you do not drink enough fluids to replace what you lose through vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration is most common in babies, young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems. Older people, young children and those with a weakened immune system are at risk of developing more serious illnesses.

It is very important to drink plenty of fluids. See a doctor immediately if your child cannot keep down a sip of liquid or has dehydration (dry mouth, no urine for 6 hours or more, or lethargy). If you are unwell with diarrhea or vomiting, you could have norovirus gastroenteritis. A doctor can diagnose norovirus gastroenteritis after talking to and examining you. If you’re not getting better, the doctor may want to do stool (poop) tests to find out what’s making you ill.

You can get norovirus illness many times in your life because there are many different types of noroviruses. Infection with one type of norovirus may not protect you against other types. It is possible to develop immunity to (protection against) specific types. But, it is not known exactly how long immunity lasts. This may explain why so many people of all ages get infected during norovirus outbreaks. Also, whether you are susceptible to norovirus infection is also determined in part by your genes.

How is norovirus spread

Norovirus spreads very easily. You can get norovirus by accidentally getting tiny particles of poop or vomit from an infected person in your mouth. This can happen if you:

  • eat food or drink liquids that are contaminated with norovirus,
  • touch surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then put your fingers in your mouth, or
  • have direct contact with someone who is infected with norovirus, such as by caring for them or sharing food or eating utensils with them.

If you get norovirus illness, you can shed billions of norovirus particles that you can’t see without a microscope. Only a few norovirus particles can make other people sick. You are most contagious:

  • when you have symptoms of norovirus illness, especially vomiting, and
  • during the first few days after you recover from norovirus illness.

However, studies have shown that you can still spread norovirus for two weeks or more after you feel better.

How food can get contaminated with norovirus

Norovirus can easily contaminate food and water because it only takes a very small amount of virus particles to make you sick. Food and water can get contaminated with norovirus in many ways, including when:

  • An infected person touches food with their bare hands that have poop or vomit particles on them
  • Food is placed on a counter or surface that has poop or vomit particles on it
  • Tiny drops of vomit from an infected person spray through the air and land on the food
  • The food is grown or harvested with contaminated water, such as oysters harvested from contaminated water, or fruit and vegetables irrigated with contaminated water in the field

How water can get contaminated with norovirus

Recreational or drinking water can get contaminated with norovirus and make you sick or contaminate your food. This can happen:

  • At the source such as when a septic tank leaks into a well
  • When an infected person vomits or poops in the water
  • When water isn’t treated properly, such as not enough chlorine

How surfaces can get contaminated with norovirus

Surfaces can get contaminated with norovirus in many ways, including when:

  • An infected person touches the surface with their bare hands that have poop or vomit particles on them
  • An infected person vomits or has diarrhea that splatters onto surfaces
  • Food, water, or objects that are contaminated with norovirus are placed on surfaces.

Norovirus prevention

Norovirus spreads very easily from infected people to others, and through contaminated foods and surfaces. There is currently no vaccine to prevent norovirus; although, this is an area of active research. You can help protect yourself and others from norovirus by following these prevention tips.

1. Practice proper hand hygiene

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

  • especially after using the toilet or changing diapers
  • always before eating, preparing, or handling food, and
  • before giving yourself or someone else medicine.

Norovirus can be found in your vomit or poop even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your poop for 2 weeks or more after you feel better. It is important to continue washing your hands often during this time.

You can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers in addition to hand washing. But, you should not use hand sanitizer as a substitute for washing your hands with soap and water. Hand sanitizers aren’t as effective as washing hands with soap and water at removing norovirus particles.

2. Handle and prepare food safely

Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.

Be aware that noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat. They can survive temperatures as high as 145°F (63 °C) and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish.

Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.

Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.

3. When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick

You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 days after symptoms stop. This also applies to sick workers in restaurants, schools, daycares, long-term care facilities, and other places where they may expose people to norovirus.

4. Clean and disinfect surfaces

After someone vomits or has diarrhea, always thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire area immediately. Put on rubber or disposable gloves, and wipe the entire area with paper towels, then disinfect the area using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. Leave the bleach disinfectant on the affected area for at least five minutes then clean the entire area again with soap and hot water. Finish by cleaning soiled laundry, taking out the trash, and washing your hands.

To help make sure that food is safe from norovirus, routinely clean and sanitize kitchen utensils, counters, and surfaces before preparing food.

You should use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000 to 5000 ppm (5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach [5% to 8%] per gallon of water) or other disinfectant registered as effective against norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For more information, see EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products Effective Against Norovirus (https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-06/documents/list_g_norovirus.pdf)

5. Wash laundry thoroughly

Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or poop.

You should:

  • handle soiled items carefully without agitating them,
  • wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after, and
  • wash the items with detergent and hot water at the maximum available cycle length then machine dry them at the highest heat setting.

Norovirus symptoms

Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines. This is called acute gastroenteritis.

The most common symptoms of norovirus are:

  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • cramp-like stomach pain
  • low-grade fever.

Other symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • body aches

Symptoms usually appear 1 or 2 days after infection, but they can develop as soon as 12 hours after. They usually last for 1 to 3 days and rarely cause long-term harm in people who are otherwise healthy.

Symptoms can be more severe and long-lasting in elderly people, young children and people with a compromised immune system. If you or someone you care for has a severe infection, they may need hospital care.

If you have norovirus illness, you can feel extremely ill, and vomit or have diarrhea many times a day. This can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • decrease in urination
  • dry mouth and throat
  • feeling dizzy when standing up

Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.

Norovirus treatment

There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness.

The best treatment for a norovirus infection is rest and avoiding dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea. This is particularly important for the elderly and babies.

Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids such as an oral rehydration solution which you can buy at a pharmacy.

If you have a baby or young child with norovirus illness, it’s a good idea to have them checked by a doctor for dehydration. You can get rehydration fluids from a pharmacy. These are the best fluids to use in cases of gastroenteritis, especially for children.

If you can’t get any, or your child refuses to drink it, giving diluted fruit juice (one part juice to four parts of water) is reasonable. You could try a cube of ice or an iceblock if your child won’t drink. Avoid milk and other dairy products and do not give juice, sodas, sports drinks or other soft drinks as the sugar may make the diarrhea worse. It is fine to eat once you feel like it.

Babies can continue milk feeds throughout the illness, with rehydration fluid between feeds. Medication for nausea or diarrhea can be useful for adults, but may not be safe for kids. Antibiotics are rarely helpful.

If you are very sick with norovirus illness, you may need to go to hospital where you may be put on a drip.

Dehydration can lead to serious problems. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization for treatment with fluids given through your vein (intravenous or IV fluids).

Watch for signs of dehydration in children who have norovirus illness. Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.

If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, see a doctor.

Juice, soft drink and cordial are all high in sugar, which can make diarrhea worse. If you don’t have a rehydration drink, you can have these drinks diluted:

  • Juice or soft drink: mix 1 part drink to 4 parts water (for example, 40 ml of the drink with 160 ml water)
  • Cordial: mix 1 part cordial to 20 parts water (for example, 5 ml cordial with 100 ml water)

There is no medication or antibiotic available to treat norovirus. You should only use anti-vomiting or anti-diarrheal medications if your doctor has recommended them.

Home remedies

To help keep yourself more comfortable and prevent dehydration while you recover, try the following:

  • Let your stomach settle. Stop eating solid foods for a few hours.
  • Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. You might also try drinking clear soda, clear broths or noncaffeinated sports drinks. Drink plenty of liquid every day, taking small, frequent sips.
  • Ease back into eating. Gradually begin to eat bland, easy-to-digest foods, such as soda crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas, rice and chicken. Stop eating if your nausea returns.
  • Avoid certain foods and substances until you feel better. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
  • Get plenty of rest. The illness and dehydration may have made you weak and tired.
  • Be cautious with medications. Use many medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), sparingly if at all. They can make your stomach more upset. Use acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) cautiously; it sometimes can cause liver toxicity, especially in children. Don’t give aspirin to children or teens because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare, but potentially fatal disease. Before choosing a pain reliever or fever reducer discuss with your child’s pediatrician.

For infants and children

When your child has an intestinal infection, the most important goal is to replace lost fluids and salts. These suggestions may help:

  • Help your child rehydrate. Give your child an oral rehydration solution, available at pharmacies without a prescription. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how to use it. Don’t give your child plain water — in children with gastroenteritis, water isn’t absorbed well and won’t adequately replace lost electrolytes. Avoid giving your child apple juice for rehydration — it can make diarrhea worse.
  • Get your child back to a normal diet slowly. Gradually introduce bland, easy-to-digest foods, such as toast, rice, bananas and potatoes.
  • Avoid certain foods. Don’t give your child dairy products or sugary foods, such as ice cream, sodas and candy. These can make diarrhea worse.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest. The illness and dehydration may have made your child weak and tired.
  • Avoid giving your child over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications, unless advised by your doctor. They can make it harder for your child’s body to eliminate the virus.

If you have a sick infant, let your baby’s stomach rest for 15 to 20 minutes after vomiting or a bout of diarrhea, then offer small amounts of liquid. If you’re breast-feeding, let your baby nurse. If your baby is bottle-fed, offer a small amount of an oral rehydration solution or regular formula. Don’t dilute your baby’s already-prepared formula.

Enteritis causes

Enteritis is most often caused by eating or drinking things that are contaminated with bacteria or viruses. The germs settle in the small intestine and cause inflammation and swelling.

Enteritis may also be caused by:

  • An autoimmune condition, such as Crohn disease
  • Certain drugs, including NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium) and cocaine
  • Damage from radiation therapy
  • Celiac disease
  • Tropical sprue
  • Whipple disease

The inflammation can also involve the stomach (gastritis) and large intestine (colitis).

Risk factors include:

  • Recent stomach flu among household members
  • Recent travel
  • Exposure to unclean water

Enteritis prevention

The following steps may help prevent enteritis:

  • Always wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food or drinks. You may also clean your hands with a 60% alcohol-based product.
  • Boil water that comes from unknown sources, such as streams and outdoor wells, before drinking it.
  • Use only clean utensils for eating or handling foods, particularly when handling eggs and poultry.
  • Cook food thoroughly.
  • Use coolers to store food that needs to stay chilled.

Enteritis symptoms

Enteritis symptoms may begin hours to days after you become infected. Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea — acute and severe
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the stool

Enteritis possible complications

Enteritis complications may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Long-term diarrhea

Note: In babies, the diarrhea can cause severe dehydration that comes on very quickly.

Enteritis diagnosis

Tests may include:

  • A stool culture to look for the type of infection. However, this test may not always identify the bacteria causing the illness.
  • A colonoscopy and/or upper endoscopy to look at the small intestine and to take tissue samples if needed.
  • Imaging tests such as CT scan and MRI (if symptoms are persistent).

Enteritis treatment

Mild cases often do not need treatment.

Antidiarrheal medicine is sometimes used. However, it may not be recommended in some cases because it can slow the germ from leaving the digestive tract.

You may need rehydration with electrolyte solutions if your body does not have enough fluids.

You may need medical care and fluids through a vein (intravenous fluids) if you have diarrhea and cannot keep fluids down. This is often the case with young children.

If you take diuretics (water pills) or ACE inhibitor and develop diarrhea, you may need to stop taking the diuretics. However, do not stop taking any medicine without first talking to your health care provider.

You may need to take antibiotics.

People who have Crohn disease will often need to take anti-inflammatory medicines.

  1. Prevent the Spread of Norovirus. https://www.cdc.gov/Features/Norovirus/[]
Health Jade