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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Enteritis is inflammation of the small intestine. It may be caused by eating foods or drinking liquids contaminated with a virus, bacteria, or parasites. It may also be caused by certain medicines, damage from radiation, and medical conditions such as Crohn disease.
Seek care immediately if:
- You cannot stop vomiting.
- You have not urinated for 12 hours.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever over 101.5.
- You have blood or mucus in your bowel movements.
- You continue to vomit or have diarrhea for more than 3 days, even after treatment.
- You have a dry mouth and eyes, you are urinating less than usual, and you feel dizzy when you stand up.
- Your mouth or eyes are dry. You are not urinating as much or as often.
- You are losing weight without trying.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to fight an infection caused by bacteria or a parasite. You may also need medicines to slow or stop your diarrhea or vomiting. Do not take these medicines unless your healthcare provider say it is okay. Other medicines may be needed to treat medical conditions that are causing enteritis.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Eat foods that help to decrease symptoms. Limit or avoid foods and liquids that are high in sugar, fat, and fiber to help relieve diarrhea. It may be helpful to avoid lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar that is found in milk products. You may be able to tolerate soups, broths, well-cooked vegetables, canned fruit, and baked or broiled meats. Ask your dietitian or healthcare provider if you should follow a special diet. You may need to avoid other foods if you have certain medical conditions such as celiac disease.
- Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. It is important to prevent or treat dehydration. Even if you have been vomiting, suck on ice chips or take small sips of clear liquids often. Slowly increase the amount of clear liquids you drink. If you become dehydrated, you may need IV liquids.
- Drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS) as directed. An ORS contains water, salts, and sugar that are needed to replace lost body fluids. Ask what kind of ORS to use, how much to drink, and where to get it.
Enteritis that is caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses can be prevented. The following may help to prevent this type of enteritis:
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
- Clean surfaces and do laundry often. Wash your clothes and towels separately from the rest of the laundry. Clean surfaces in your home with antibacterial cleaner or bleach.
- Clean food thoroughly and cook safely. Wash raw vegetables before you cook. Cook meat, fish, and eggs fully. Do not use the same dishes for raw meat as you do for other foods. Refrigerate any leftover food immediately.
- Be aware when you camp or travel. Drink only clean water. Do not drink from rivers or lakes unless you purify or boil the water first. When you travel, drink bottled water and do not add ice. Do not eat fruit that has not been peeled. Do not eat raw fish or meat that is not fully cooked.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.