Gastro Health

Tummy Flu, a Common Stomach Problem (Gastroenteritis)

Written by Dr. Pir Muhammad Siddique and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Image: Tummy Flu, a Common Stomach Problem (Gastroenteritis)

Gastroenteritis, commonly called the tummy flu or upset stomach is basically inflammation of the gut. It is a disease most commonly caused by viruses but can also be caused by some bacteria and rarely by parasites, antibiotics and other medications.

Causative Organisms:

Common viruses that cause gastroenteritis are rotavirus and norovirus. Most common bacteria that cause this disease are E.coli, Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Bacillus and Enterococci.


Regardless of the cause, the symptoms are the same.

  • Diarrhea (Loose watery stools).
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Other associated symptoms can be fever, body aches and lethargy.

Signs of Dehydration:

The most serious consequence of gastroenteritis is dehydration caused by large amount of fluid loss during diarrhea and vomiting. This can be particularly dangerous and even fatal in young children. In fact gastroenteritis is one of the leading causes of death among children under 5 years of age in developing countries. The most common reason is severe dehydration and failure of timely re-hydration therapy.

Watch out for signs of dehydration which include extreme thirst, loss of skin turgor, dry mouth, lips and eyes, lethargy, dizziness and decreased urine.

Treatment for Gastroenteritis:

Treatment of gastroenteritis is aimed at prevention of dehydration. As mentioned above, the most common cause is viral infection and so antibiotics will not work in such cases. Plenty of oral fluid in take is at the heart of the therapy. Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) which are available over the counter must be consumed to replace electrolytes and minerals. Fruit juices and sports drinks are also helpful. Viral infections mostly resolve on their own within 3-5 days. If however the illness lasts longer and is associated with high grade fever, blood in stools, or severe dehydration then immediate medical attention must be sought. Bacterial or parasitic infections may require antibiotic/antihelminthic therapy. Severe dehydration may require admission and intravenous fluid replacement.

Prevention of Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis can be prevented by taking the following measures:

  • Hand washing with soap before eating food and after using toilet.
  • Avoid eating stale or reheated food.
  • Avoid eating undercooked food.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • For young children rotavirus vaccine is available which gives immunity against the virus and is one of the most important tools in prevention of rotavirus infection.

Consult a Medical Gastro online for more information regarding tummy flu -->

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018



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