Gastroenteritis in adults

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Gastroenteritis involves infection of the intestines. The severity can range from minor stomach upset for 1-2 days with mild to severe diarrhea and vomiting for several days. Gastroenteritis can be triggered by bacteria, viruses and other microbes.


  • Diarrhea is the main symptom of gastroenteritis along with vomiting. Diarrhea is described as having loose or watery stools at least 3 times in 24 hours. In some cases, blood or mucus might be present.
  • Abdominal cramping can occur in which the pain can settle every time bowel movement is passed.
  • Fever
  • Headache
    Abdominal cramping can occur in which the pain can settle every time bowel movement is passed.
  • Aching limbs

In case vomiting occurs, it usually lasts for only a day or so but can persist. Diarrhea often continue after the vomiting ceases and lasts for several days or longer. If the individual has slightly loose stools, it can continue for a week or longer before the normal pattern returns.


The symptoms often settle in a few days as the immune system clears up the infection. In some cases, hospitalization is required if the symptoms are severe or if complications develop.

Increased intake of fluids

Drinking more fluids is aimed on preventing dehydration or treat it if it has developed. Among adults, water should be the priority. It is not advisable to drink those that contain a lot of sugar since these can worsen diarrhea.

Rehydration beverages are suitable for those who are frail, over the age of 50 or those who have underlying health conditions.

Eat normally as possible

It is recommended not to eat for a while if gastroenteritis is present. Nevertheless, it is best to stick with small, light meals if possible. Adults should eat as soon as able, but do not stop drinking fluids.

In case the individual does not have the appetite, he/she must avoid spicy, fatty or heavy foods initially. Plain foods such as rice and whole meal bread are suitable foods to eat first.


Anti-diarrheal medications are not usually advisable. Nevertheless, it is best to reduce the frequency of trips to the toilet.

The safest option is loperamide which is effective and safe to use. For adults, the dosage is 2 capsules initially and followed by one capsule after passing diarrhea up to a maximum of 8 capsules in 24 hours. The medication works by slowing the activity of the stomach. Remember that loperamide should not be taken more than 5 days.

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