BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuViral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)Rotavirus infection - gastroenteritis; Norwalk virus; Gastroenteritis - viral; Stomach flu; Diarrhea - viral; Loose stools - viral; Upset stomach - viralViral gastroenteritis is present when a virus causes an infection of the stomach and intestine. The infection can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. It is sometimes called the "stomach flu." DiarrheaDiarrhea is when you pass loose or watery stool.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Causes Gastroenteritis can affect one person or a group of people who all ate the same food or drank the same water. The germs may get into your system in many ways:Directly from food or water By way of objects such as plates and eating utensils Passed from person to person by way of close contactMany types of viruses can cause gastroenteritis. The most common viruses are:Norovirus (Norwalk-like virus) is common among school-age children. It may also cause outbreaks in hospitals and on cruise ships. Rotavirus is the leading cause of gastroenteritis in children. It can also infect adults who are exposed to children with the virus and people living in nursing homes. Astrovirus. Enteric adenovirus. COVID-19 may cause stomach flu symptoms, even when breathing problems are not present.People with the highest risk for a severe infection include young children, older adults, and people who have a suppressed immune system. Symptoms Symptoms most often appear within 4 to 48 hours after contact with the virus. Common symptoms include: Abdominal pain Abdominal painAbdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. This is often referred to as the stomach region or belly.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Diarrhea DiarrheaDiarrhea is when you pass loose or watery stool.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Nausea and vomiting NauseaNausea is feeling an urge to vomit. It is often called "being sick to your stomach. "Vomiting or throwing-up is forcing the contents of the stomach ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Other symptoms may include:Chills, clammy skin, or sweating Fever Joint stiffness or muscle pain Poor feeding Weight lossWeight lossUnexplained weight loss is a decrease in body weight, when you did not try to lose the weight on your own. Many people gain and lose weight. Uninten...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Exams and Tests The health care provider will look for signs of dehydration, including:DehydrationDehydration occurs when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it needs. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how much...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Dry or sticky mouth Lethargy or coma (severe dehydration) Low blood pressure Low or no urine output, concentrated urine that looks dark yellow Sunken soft spots (fontanelles) on the top of an infant's head No tears Sunken eyes Tests of stool samples may be used to identify the virus that is causing the sickness. Most of the time, this test is not needed. A stool culture may be done to find out if the problem is being caused by bacteria. Treatment The goal of treatment is to make sure the body has enough water and fluids. Fluids and electrolytes (salt and minerals) that are lost through diarrhea or vomiting must be replaced by drinking extra fluids. Even if you are able to eat, you should still drink extra fluids between meals.Older children and adults can drink sports beverages such as Gatorade, but these should not be used for younger children. Instead, use the electrolyte and fluid replacement solutions or freezer pops available in food and drug stores. Do NOT use fruit juice (including apple juice), sodas or cola (flat or bubbly), Jell-O, or broth. These liquids do not replace lost minerals and can make diarrhea worse. Drink small amounts of fluid (2 to 4 oz. or 60 to 120 mL) every 30 to 60 minutes. Do not try to force down large amounts of fluid at one time, which can cause vomiting. Use a teaspoon (5 milliliters) or syringe for an infant or small child. Babies can continue to drink breast milk or formula along with extra fluids. You do NOT need to switch to a soy formula. Try eating small amounts of food frequently. Foods to try include:Cereals, bread, potatoes, lean meats Plain yogurt, bananas, fresh apples Vegetables 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). Infants and young children are more likely to need IV fluids.Parents should closely monitor the number of wet diapers an infant or young child has. Fewer wet diapers is a sign that the infant needs more fluids.People taking water pills (diuretics) who develop diarrhea may be told by their provider to stop taking them until symptoms improve. However, DO NOT stop taking any prescription medicine without first talking to your provider.Antibiotics do not work for viruses.You can buy medicines at the drugstore that can help stop or slow diarrhea.Do not use these medicines without talking to your provider if you have bloody diarrhea, a fever, or if the diarrhea is severe. Do not give these medicines to children. Outlook (Prognosis) For most people, the illness goes away in a few days without treatment. Possible Complications Severe dehydration can occur in infants and young children.DehydrationDehydration occurs when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it needs. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how much...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article When to Contact a Medical Professional Call your provider if diarrhea lasts for more than several days or if dehydration occurs. You should also contact your provider if you or your child has these symptoms: Blood in the stool Confusion Dizziness Dry mouth Feeling faint Nausea No tears when crying No urine for 8 hours or more No urine for 8 hours or moreDecreased urine output means that you produce less urine than normal. Most adults make at least 500 mL of urine in 24 hours (a little over 2 cups)....ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Sunken appearance to the eyes Sunken soft spot on an infant's head (fontanelle)Contact your provider right away if you or your child also have respiratory symptoms, fever or possible exposure to COVID-19. Prevention Most viruses and bacteria are passed from person to person by unwashed hands. The best way to prevent stomach flu is to handle food properly and wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet.Be sure to observe home isolation and even self-quarantine if COVID-19 is suspected.A vaccine to prevent rotavirus infection is recommended for infants starting at age 2 months.Open ReferencesReferencesBass DM. Rotaviruses, caliciviruses, and astroviruses. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 292.DuPont HL, Okhuysen PC. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 267.Kotloff KL. Acute gastroenteritis in children. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 366.Melia JMP, Sears CL. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 110.AllVideoImagesTogDigestive system - illustration The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.Digestive systemillustrationDigestive system organs - illustration The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.Digestive system organsillustrationDigestive system - illustration The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.Digestive systemillustrationDigestive system organs - illustration The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.Digestive system organsillustrationRelated Information Diarrhea(Symptoms)Dehydration(Condition)Antibody(Special Topic)Immunodeficiency disorders(Condition)When you have nausea and vomiting(Self-Care) Review Date: 4/30/2020 Reviewed By: Bradley J. Winston, MD, board certified in gastroenterology and hepatology, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.