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Acute gastroenteritis


The acute gastroenteritis is a disease whose main symptom is diarrhea.

Diarrhea (read: how to get rid of diarrhea ) is formally defined by an increase in the amount of stool. Often the patient also reports an abnormal increase in the fluidity of the stool and the frequency of defecation.

The normal bowel frequency varies between three times a week and three times a day. Among the factors that influence the weight and consistency of stool and the frequency of defecation are the fiber content of the diet, sex (the average daily weight of stool in women is higher than in men ), medications taken, and probably exercise and stress .

Diarrhea is considered acute when it lasts less than 3 weeks.

Causes of acute gastroenteritis

The most common causes of acute diarrhea are infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, and parasites). It can also be due to the ingestion of drugs or toxins, to the administration of chemotherapy, to the reinstatement of the feeding after a prolonged fast, to fecal impaction (diarrhea due to overflow) or to special situations, such as running a marathon. Also, acute diarrhea can represent the beginning of a chronic diarrhea illness.

Most of the acute infectious gastroenteritis are acquired by fecal-oral transmission, due to water or food contaminated by human waste, as a consequence of incorrect evacuation systems or due to the presence of feces of domestic or wild animals in the water, no properly purified.

Improperly cooked beef, pork, and poultry can be the source of infection.

Surfaces on which food is prepared can become contaminated with microorganisms, which spread to uncooked food.

Person-to-person transmission also occurs through the air (Norwalk agent, rotavirus ), hands (Clostridium difficile) or contaminated surfaces, or sexually.

Virtually any drug is capable of causing diarrhea.

Toxins that we can ingest such as organophosphate insecticides, arsenic mushrooms and even caffeine must be taken into account.

Symptoms of acute gastroenteritis

People with acute infectious gastroenteritis characteristically begin with:

  • sickness
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • fever
  • diarrhea

Stools are usually watery and, in some cases, they are accompanied by mucus, pus, or blood.

Patients who have ingested toxins or those with toxigenic infections typically have nausea and vomiting as the predominant symptoms, but do not usually have a high fever.

The abdominal pain is mild, diffuse, and crampy and is due to the high volume of secreted fluid, which stimulates peristalsis and causes watery diarrhea.

Vomiting that begins several hours after eating a food suggests food poisoning due to a preformed toxin.

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Some agents, such as Giardia, cause steatorrhea, gas, and flatulence.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made primarily by symptoms.

Acute gastroenteritis is usually self-limited, that is, it usually resolves without the need for drug treatment or special diagnostic tests.

In patients with acute bloody diarrhea, various intestinal diseases should be considered as diagnostic possibilities. Acute bloody diarrhea is not considered to be the presence of bloody threads in the stool, a fact that is considered normal.

In cases with persistently high fever, severe general malaise, abundant blood in the stool or signs of dehydration (dry skin, mouth and eyes, decreased level of consciousness or disorientation), additional diagnostic tests are necessary, such as tests, X-rays, stool culture (stool culture), etc. These tests may also be necessary in cases of travel abroad, recent antibiotic use, or people with a weakened immune system.


The general and nonspecific treatment of acute gastroenteritis consists of rest and fluid replacement, paying special attention to the latter, since the main (although not frequent) cause of death in these patients is dehydration.

During the first 24 hours you should only drink liquids (2 to 3 liters), preferably oral serum (sold in pharmacies) or homemade alkaline lemonade (1 liter of water, a teaspoon of salt, sugar to taste, juice of lemon and a sprinkle of baking soda).

Subsequently, the normal diet will be introduced, starting with cooked rice, boiled or grilled fish or chicken, cooked ham, potato, carrot, apple, banana, quince meat and one or two yogurts. Milk, juices, fats and other fruits and vegetables should be avoided. As the diarrhea subsides, the diet can be normalized.

In case of fever, Paracetamol or other common antipyretics should be taken .

Antibiotics should not be taken, or any medicine intended to reduce diarrhea or prevent vomiting, except when prescribed by a doctor in special cases, because the course of the disease could worsen.

How can I avoid it?

Some cases could be avoided by improving hygiene (hand washing before cooking and eating, after urinating and defecating), avoiding the consumption of food that is spoiled or undercooked and properly washing foods that are eaten raw (fruits and vegetables) .

These measures are extremely important when traveling abroad.

In cases of high fever resistant to treatment, intense and persistent diarrhea and vomiting, general malaise, signs of dehydration or severity, we should go to the General Practitioner or an Emergency Service.

It is important in children and the elderly to insist on abundant hydration and to closely monitor the signs of dehydration, seeing a doctor at the slightest suspicion of the appearance of these signs.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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