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Gastroenteritis, Ambulatory Care

Gastroenteritis

, or stomach flu, is an infection of the stomach and intestines. It is caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses.


Common symptoms include the following:

  • Diarrhea or gas
  • Nausea, vomiting, or poor appetite
  • Abdominal cramps, pain, or gurgling
  • Fever
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Headaches or muscle aches with any of the above symptoms

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Blood in your diarrhea
  • Unable to stop vomiting
  • No urinating for 12 hours
  • Legs or arms that are blue
  • Trouble breathing or a very fast pulse
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

Treatment for gastroenteritis

may include medicines to stop your diarrhea and vomiting. You may also need medicines to treat an infection caused by bacteria or parasites.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to drink more liquids than usual to prevent dehydration. Suck on ice or take small sips of liquids often if you have trouble keeping liquids down.
  • Drink 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 and how much to drink.
  • Eat bland foods. When you feel hungry, begin to eat soft, bland foods. Examples are bananas, clear soup, potatoes, and applesauce. Do not eat dairy products, alcohol, sugary drinks, or caffeine until you feel better.

Prevent the spread of germs:

  • 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.
    Handwashing
  • 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 avoid ice. Do not eat fruit that has not been peeled. Avoid 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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