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What Is Viral Gastroenteritis?

Viral Gastroenteritis

What Is Viral Gastroenteritis?

This is a disorder that triggers an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It is often caused by numerous viruses. Also referred to as the "stomach flu", this condition can affect anyone across the globe. Viral gastroenteritis is highly contagious and spreads through close contact with infected people, or through foods or fluids that are contaminated. It is easily spread in close quarters like cruise ships, child care facilities, nursing homes, and schools. Several viruses are responsible for this illness, each having its specific peak season.

The commonest viruses include:


This virus often affects young children and newborns. They later transmit the infection to other kids and adults. It is usually spread orally, implying that the virus enters the individual’s body via the mouth. Symptoms become visible within two days of infection and they include watery diarrhea and appetite loss.

• Norovirus

This virus is extremely contagious and can infect people of all ages. It is spread through contaminated surfaces, food, water, or by infected patients. Norovirus is highly prevalent in crowded locations like schools, nursing homes, and daycares. There are several steps that can be taken to minimize the possibility of contracting the viruses responsible for viral gastroenteritis. Such measures include regular hand washing and avoidance of contaminated foods or water.

What Causes Viral Gastroenteritis?

Gastritis is caused by numerous viruses. The people who are highly prone to gastroenteritis include children below five years of age, people with deteriorated immune systems, and older adults, particularly if they stay at nursing homes.

It is easy for this illness to spread among people spending time in groups like cruise ships, schools, hospitals, and dormitories. Some ways through which the virus is spread include the consumption of raw shellfish obtained from contaminated waters, improper handwashing, and drinking of unclean water, which is contaminated by sewage.

Symptoms Associated with Gastroenteritis

Gastritis is often accompanied by multiple symptoms, which become visible within two days of infection. The most common signs are:

• Weight loss
• Watery diarrhea
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
Fever and chills
• Abdominal cramps
• Headache, joint aches, and muscle pain
• Sweating or clammy skin

Complications Caused by Viral Gastroenteritis

The major complication brought about by viral gastritis is dehydration. This is very common in infants and young children. If your child is experiencing the following symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor:

• Nausea
• Sunken eyes
• Diarrhea persisting for quite some time
Dry mouth
• Blood streaks in stool
• Inability to produce tears
• Confusion or lethargy
• Faintness or dizziness

Most often, a physical examination is performed to diagnose gastroenteritis, particularly if the viral infection is spreading throughout the community. Your physician might also order tests to check the presence of the virus in the patient’s stool sample.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you or your child is experiencing the following symptoms, call your doctor:

• Incapability to hold fluids down for one day.
• You have been vomiting for over 48 hours.
• You’re experiencing a fever over 40 degrees Celsius.
• You are severely dehydrated.

Some signs of dehydration are:

Since the gastroenteritis-related symptoms are similar to those caused by bacterial diarrhea like Salmonella, Clostridium difficile, and E. coli, it might be difficult to differentiate between viral and bacterial diarrhea.