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First Aid for Gastroenteritis

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, caused by various pathogens.

What is Gastroenteritis?

  • Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, caused by various pathogens including viruses, bacteria, and other parasites
  • It is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In some cases, the condition may be severe, presenting blood in stool and uncontrolled diarrhea leading to dehydration

What are the Causes of Gastroenteritis?

Virus, bacteria, and other parasites, can cause Gastroenteritis through:

  • Contaminated food and/or water
  • Fecal-oral contamination
  • Contact with an infected person
  • Use of contaminated cookware, utensils
  • Certain seafood like fish, shellfish (uncooked or undercooked)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gastroenteritis?

Signs and symptoms of Gastroenteritis include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain, cramps
  • Weakness/tiredness
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Fever
  • Generalized body ache

How is First Aid administered for Gastroenteritis?

First Aid tips for Gastroenteritis include:

  • Avoid solid foods for the first few hours, after onset of vomiting
  • Replenishing the lost body fluids and electrolytes is the key treatment
  • Drink plenty of fluids by taking frequent sips
  • Start eating food that is easy to digest, like crackers, banana, bland soup, toast, and rice
  • Avoid dairy products, nicotine, alcohol, spicy, oily, fried, or fast foods, for a few days
  • Take plenty of rest
  • Avoid over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, advil, aleve, and aspirin. Such medications might worsen the abdominal pain
  • Take acetaminophen (tylenol) at recommended doses, for fever and body aches. Avoid this, in case of liver disease

Seek medical help, if the following are noted:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Persistent fever
  • Vomiting, for more than 2 days
  • Diarrhea, more than a week
  • Clammy skin, weak pulse, excessive thirst, lightheadedness, dizziness, dark urine, or decreased urine output; all these may represent moderate to severe dehydration
  • Persistent or worsening abdominal pain
  • Blood in the vomitus
  • If the infant or child is lethargic, having high fever, is irritable, inconsolably crying, has a sunken fontanel (soft spot on the infant’s head), or does not wet the diapers for 6 hours or more

Who should administer First Aid for Gastroenteritis?

The individual experiencing Gastroenteritis or someone near the affected person, or qualified healthcare personnel, may administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Gastroenteritis?

The prognosis is usually good with appropriate intake of fluid and electrolytes.

How can Gastroenteritis be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Gastroenteritis:

  • Wash hands frequently and especially after using the restroom
  • Disinfect cookware and utensils, if contamination is suspected
  • Talk to the pediatrician about Rota virus vaccination for your infant

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Replenish fluids and electrolytes
  • Monitor the condition closely and seek medical attention, if necessary (as outlined above)

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 13, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018