What is viral gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis, then, is an infection caused by a virus that results in vomiting or diarrhea. It is often called the "stomach flu," although it is not caused by the influenza viruses.

What causes viral gastroenteritis?

Many different viruses can cause gastroenteritis, including rotaviruses, noroviruses, adenoviruses, type 40 or 41, sapoviruses, and astroviruses. Viral gastroenteritis is not caused by bacteria (such as Salmonella or Escherichia coli) or parasites (such as Giardia), or by medications or other medical conditions, although the symptoms may be similar. Your doctor can determine if the diarrhea is caused by a virus or by something else.

How is viral gastroenteritis transmitted?

Viral gastroenteritis is contagious. The viruses that cause gastroenteritis are spread through close contact with infected persons (for example, by sharing food, water, or eating utensils).

Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis:

Symptoms generally begin 1 to 2 days following infection with a virus that causes gastroenteritis, and may last for 1 to 10 days. They can include:

What can I do to feel better?

The best way to treat viral gastroenteritis is to rest and prevent severe loss of fluids (dehydration). Drink plenty of clear fluids like water, Gatorade and soup broth. There is no medication currently available that will treat viral gastroenteritis.


What preventative measures can I take?

Persons can reduce their chance of getting infected by:


What's in a name?

Quite a lot, actually. Find out what the M.D.s, D.O.s, P.A.s, C.M.A.s, R.N.s, M.L.T.s and R.D.s at Marquette's Medical Clinic do to help get you — and keep you — healthy. Here's a hint: It's more than just caring for your basic health needs. Find out more.