Gastroenteritis is a viral infection of the gut. The rotavirus is one of the most common viruses responsible, particularly in children. It often appears in epidemics, usually in spring or early summer. It passes from one person to another through contamination of the hands and food. Another virus that may be responsible is the astrovirus amongst many others.
Patients develop an uncomfortable feeling in the stomach, gurgling, cramping pains and then vomiting. A few hours later the vomiting starts to ease and diarrhoea develops. The infection lasts from one to three days. Young children may sometimes become rapidly dehydrated and require urgent hospitalisation.
Usually no investigations are necessary but faeces tests may be performed if another cause is suspected and blood tests are sometimes necessary for dehydration.
Gastro – stands for stomach
entro – stands for intestine or bowls
itis – stands for infection or inflammation.