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Gastroenteritis in Adults: A Comprehensive Guide PDF Free Download

Gastroenteritis in Adults PDF Free

Gastroenteritis is a common condition that affects millions of people every year. It can cause unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and fever. In most cases, gastroenteritis is mild and self-limiting, but sometimes it can lead to serious complications such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and sepsis. If you are suffering from gastroenteritis or want to learn more about it, this article will provide you with useful information and tips. You will also find out where you can download a free PDF guide on gastroenteritis in adults.

Gastroenteritis In Adults Pdf Free

What is gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines caused by an infection or irritation. The infection can be viral, bacterial, parasitic, or fungal. Some of the common causes of gastroenteritis include:

  • Norovirus: This is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in adults. It spreads easily through contaminated food, water, or surfaces. It can cause sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramps.

  • Rotavirus: This is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in children. It can also affect adults who have not been vaccinated or have a weakened immune system. It spreads through fecal-oral route or contact with infected objects. It can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and dehydration.

  • Salmonella: This is a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It can be found in raw or undercooked poultry, eggs, meat, dairy products, or fruits and vegetables. It can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and sometimes blood or mucus in the stool.

  • E. coli: This is another type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It can be found in contaminated water or food that has been in contact with animal feces. It can cause bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal cramps, and sometimes kidney failure.

  • Giardia: This is a parasite that can cause giardiasis. It can be found in contaminated water or food that has been exposed to human or animal feces. It can cause watery diarrhea, gas, bloating, nausea, and weight loss.

The symptoms of gastroenteritis usually start within a few hours or days after exposure to the causative agent. They can last from a few days to a few weeks depending on the severity and type of infection. The most common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea: This is the frequent passage of loose or watery stools. It can cause dehydration if not replaced with fluids and electrolytes.

  • Vomiting: This is the forceful expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth. It can also cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance if not corrected.

  • Nausea: This is the feeling of sickness or discomfort in the stomach that may precede vomiting.

  • Abdominal pain: This is the pain or cramping in the stomach or lower abdomen that may vary in intensity and location.

  • Fever: This is the elevation of body temperature above the normal range. It indicates an immune response to fight off the infection.

Some people may also experience other symptoms such as headache, muscle ache, fatigue, loss of appetite, or malaise.

Gastroenteritis can sometimes lead to complications such as:

  • Dehydration: This is the loss of water and electrolytes from the body due to excessive diarrhea or vomiting. It can cause symptoms such as dry mouth, thirst, decreased urine output, sunken eyes, dizziness, or fainting.

  • Electrolyte imbalance: This is the disturbance of the normal levels of minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, or magnesium in the body due to fluid loss or replacement. It can cause symptoms such as muscle weakness, cramps, irregular heartbeat, confusion, or seizures.

  • Sepsis: This is the life-threatening condition that occurs when the infection spreads to the bloodstream and causes a systemic inflammatory response. It can cause symptoms such as high fever, chills, rapid breathing, low blood pressure, or organ failure.

How is gastroenteritis diagnosed?

Gastroenteritis is usually diagnosed based on the history of exposure, the symptoms, and the physical examination. The doctor may ask questions such as:

  • When did the symptoms start?

  • What are the symptoms and how severe are they?

  • Have you traveled recently or eaten anything unusual?

  • Have you been in contact with anyone who has similar symptoms?

  • Do you have any underlying medical conditions or take any medications?

The doctor may also perform a physical examination to check for signs of dehydration, abdominal tenderness, or fever. The doctor may also order some tests to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other causes of the symptoms. Some of the tests include:

  • Stool test: This is the analysis of a sample of stool to look for the presence of blood, mucus, parasites, bacteria, or viruses.

  • Blood test: This is the analysis of a sample of blood to check for signs of infection, inflammation, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalance.

  • Urine test: This is the analysis of a sample of urine to check for signs of dehydration, infection, or kidney function.

  • X-ray: This is the imaging of the abdomen to look for signs of obstruction, perforation, or inflammation.

The diagnosis of gastroenteritis is usually based on clinical criteria rather than laboratory tests. The criteria include:

  • Three or more loose stools in 24 hours

  • At least one of the following: fever, vomiting, blood in stool, or dehydration

  • No alternative explanation for the symptoms

The differential diagnosis of gastroenteritis includes other conditions that can cause similar symptoms such as:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): This is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine and causes abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and altered bowel habits.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): This is a group of chronic conditions that cause inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. The two main types are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

  • Food intolerance: This is an adverse reaction to certain foods that does not involve the immune system. It can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, or nausea.

  • Food allergy: This is an immune-mediated reaction to certain foods that can cause symptoms such as hives, swelling, itching, or anaphylaxis.

  • Appendicitis: This is an inflammation of the appendix that can cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite.

How is gastroenteritis treated?

The treatment of gastroenteritis depends on the cause, severity, and complications of the condition. The main goals are to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance and to relieve symptoms. The treatment options include:

Home remedies

Most cases of gastroenteritis can be managed at home with simple measures such as:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids: This helps to replace the fluid and electrolytes lost due to diarrhea or vomiting. The fluids should be clear and contain sugar and salt such as water, broth, juice, sports drinks, oral rehydration solutions (ORS), or ice pops. Avoid fluids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or dairy products as they can worsen diarrhea.

  • Eating bland foods: This helps to provide nutrition and energy without irritating the stomach or intestines. The foods should be easy to digest and low in fat and fiber such as bananas, rice, applesauce, toast (BRAT diet), crackers, soup, boiled potatoes, or cooked carrots. Avoid foods that are spicy, greasy, fried, acidic, or dairy-based as they can worsen diarrhea.


Some cases of gastroenteritis may require medications to treat the infection or reduce the symptoms. The medications include:

  • Antibiotics: These are drugs that kill or stop the growth of bacteria. They are only prescribed for bacterial gastroenteritis or when there is a risk of complications such as sepsis. They should be taken as directed and completed to prevent resistance or recurrence.

  • Antivirals: These are drugs that interfere with the replication of viruses. They are only prescribed for viral gastroenteritis caused by certain types of viruses such as rotavirus or norovirus. They may shorten the duration or severity of the symptoms if taken early.

  • Antiparasitics: These are drugs that kill or expel parasites from the body. They are only prescribed for parasitic gastroenteritis caused by certain types of parasites such as giardia or cryptosporidium. They may require multiple doses or a combination of drugs to be effective.

  • Antidiarrheals: These are drugs that slow down the movement of the intestines and reduce the frequency or volume of stools. They are only used for mild to moderate diarrhea that does not have blood, mucus, or fever. They should not be used for more than two days or in children under 12 years old. Some examples are loperamide (Imodium) or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol).

  • Anti-nausea: These are drugs that prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting. They are only used for severe vomiting that interferes with fluid intake or causes dehydration. They should not be used for more than two days or in children under 12 years old. Some examples are ondansetron (Zofran) or promethazine (Phenergan).

  • Anti-inflammatory: These are drugs that reduce inflammation and pain in the stomach or intestines. They are only used for mild to moderate abdominal pain that does not have blood, mucus, or fever. They should not be used for more than two days or in people with ulcers, bleeding disorders, or kidney problems. Some examples are ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).


Some cases of gastroenteritis may require hospitalization to treat severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, sepsis, or other complications. The hospital treatment may include:

  • Intravenous fluids: This is the administration of fluids and electrolytes through a vein to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

  • Intravenous antibiotics: This is the administration of antibiotics through a vein to treat severe bacterial infection or sepsis.

  • Blood transfusion: This is the administration of blood or blood products to replace blood loss due to bleeding in the digestive tract.

  • Surgery: This is the operation to repair or remove damaged parts of the stomach or intestines due to perforation, obstruction, or necrosis.

How can gastroenteritis be prevented?

Gastroenteritis can be prevented by following some hygiene, vaccination, and dietary tips such as:


This involves practicing good personal and environmental hygiene to avoid exposure to infectious agents that cause gastroenteritis. The hygiene tips include:

  • Washing hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water especially before eating, after using the toilet, after changing diapers, after handling animals, and after touching contaminated objects.

  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with feces, vomit, saliva, or blood such as toilets, sinks, countertops, doorknobs, toys, utensils, etc.

  • Cooking food thoroughly and storing it properly to prevent bacterial growth and contamination.

  • Avoiding raw or undercooked meat, eggs, seafood, dairy products, or fruits and vegetables that may be contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or viruses.

  • Avoiding drinking water or ice that may be contaminated with feces such as tap water, well water, fountain water, etc. Use bottled water or boil water before drinking.

  • Avoiding sharing personal items such as cups, plates, cutlery, towels, toothbrushes, etc. that may transmit saliva, blood, or other body fluids.

  • Avoiding contact with people who have gastroenteritis or their feces, vomit, saliva, or blood. If contact is unavoidable, wear gloves, masks, and gowns and wash hands after contact.


This involves getting vaccinated against certain types of viruses that cause gastroenteritis such as rotavirus or norovirus. The vaccination tips include:

  • Getting the rotavirus vaccine for infants and children under 5 years old. The vaccine is given orally in two or three doses depending on the brand. The first dose is given at 2 months of age and the last dose by 8 months of age.

  • Getting the norovirus vaccine for adults and children over 12 years old. The vaccine is given intramuscularly in two doses 28 days apart. The vaccine is not yet widely available but may be recommended for travelers, health care workers, or people at high risk of exposure.

  • Following the vaccination schedule and recommendations of the health care provider and the local health authorities.

  • Reporting any side effects or adverse reactions to the vaccine to the health care provider or the local health authorities.


This involves eating a balanced and healthy diet that supports the immune system and the digestive tract. The dietary tips include:

  • Eating foods that are rich in probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help restore the normal flora of the gut and prevent infection.

  • Eating foods that are rich in prebiotics such as garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, banana, etc. Prebiotics are substances that feed the probiotics and help them grow and multiply.

  • Eating foods that are rich in fiber such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc. Fiber helps to bulk up the stool and prevent diarrhea.

  • Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants such as berries, citrus fruits, green tea, dark chocolate, etc. Antioxidants help to protect the cells from oxidative stress and inflammation caused by infection.

  • Eating foods that are rich in zinc such as oysters, beef, chicken, beans, nuts, seeds, etc. Zinc helps to boost the immune system and fight off infection.

  • Avoiding foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt, or spices as they can irritate the stomach or intestines and worsen diarrhea.

  • Avoiding foods that are allergenic or intolerant such as gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, etc. as they can trigger an immune reaction or a digestive disturbance.

Where can I find more information about gastroenteritis?

If you want to learn more about gastroenteritis in adults, you can find more information from these resources:


Here are some links to reputable websites that provide reliable and updated information on gastroenteritis:

  • CDC: Acute Gastroenteritis

  • Mayo Clinic: Viral Gastroenteritis

  • NHS: Gastroenteritis

  • Healthline: Gastroenteritis

  • WebMD: Gastroenteritis


Here are some references to scientific articles and books that provide more in-depth and evidence-based information on gastroenteritis:

  • Bhutta ZA. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM et al., eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Elsevier; 2020:1849-1864.

  • Glass RI et al. Rotavirus vaccines: current status and future considerations. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2014;10(6):1436-1448.

  • Hall AJ et al. Norovirus disease in the United States. Emerg Infect Dis. 2013;19(8):1198-1205.

Q: How long does gastroenteritis last?

A: The duration of gastroenteritis depends on the type and severity of the infection. In general, viral gastroenteritis lasts for 1 to 3 days, bacterial gastroenteritis lasts for 2 to 5 days, and parasitic gastroenteritis lasts for 1 to 2 weeks. However, some cases may last longer or recur depending on the immune status, treatment, or complications.

Q: How can I tell if I have gastroenteritis or food poisoning?

A: Gastroenteritis and food poisoning are both terms that describe inflammation of the stomach and intestines due to an infection or irritation. However, food poisoning is usually caused by eating food that is contaminated with bacteria, toxins, or chemicals. Food poisoning usually has a shorter incubation period (the time between exposure and symptoms) than gastroenteritis, ranging from a few hours to a few days. Food poisoning also tends to cause more severe symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, or neurological signs. The best way to tell if you have gastroenteritis or food poisoning is to consult a doctor who can diagnose the condition based on the history, symptoms, and tests.

Q: Can I take probiotics for gastroenteritis?

A: Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. They can help restore the normal flora of the gut and prevent infection by competing with harmful microbes, producing antimicrobial substances, or modulating the immune system. Some studies have shown that probiotics can reduce the duration and severity of diarrhea caused by viral or bacterial gastroenteritis. However, not all probiotics are equally effective and some may have side effects such as gas, bloating, or allergic reactions. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a doctor before taking probiotics for gastroenteritis and to follow the instructions on the label.

Q: Can I drink alcohol after gastroenteritis?

A: Alcohol is not recommended after gastroenteritis as it can irritate the stomach and intestines and worsen diarrhea. Alcohol can also dehydrate the body and interfere with the absorption of nutrients and medications. It is advisable to avoid alcohol until you have fully recovered from gastroenteritis and to drink plenty of fluids and eat bland foods instead.

Q: Can I get gastroenteritis more than once?

A: Yes, you can get gastroenteritis more than once as there are many different types of viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi that can cause it. Even if you have been infected by one type of microbe, you may not develop immunity to other types or strains. Therefore, it is important to practice good hygiene, get vaccinated if applicable, and eat a healthy diet to prevent gastroenteritis. 71b2f0854b


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