Health & Wellness

Gastroenteritis: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Gastroenteritis: Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Gastroenteritis is a very common condition where the lining of the bowel becomes inflamed. It is typically caused by a bacterial or viral infection and although unpleasant is mostly short-lived.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of gastroenteritis can vary widely in number and severity. Some children are simply “off colour” for a day or two, whilst others end up in hospital on fluids.

The three main symptoms of gastroenteritis are vomiting, lack of appetite and diarrhoea. These symptoms usually disappear by themselves in around five days to a week.


The most common cause of gastroenteritis in children is the rotavirus. This virus is passed out in the faeces of someone with the infection and is then somehow ingested. It can be transferred to surfaces, objects and food if the affected person doesn’t wash their hands having visited the toilet. The virus is then usually passed to someone else when they touch the contaminated food, surface or object and then put their fingers near their mouth.

Babies and young children are particularly susceptible to gastroenteritis. This is because they often forget to wash their hands before eating their dinner or using the bathroom. They also have not yet built up a good immunity to the rotavirus so they have less resistance to it.

According to the studies, every child will suffer with gastroenteritis at least once before reaching school age, with several episodes a year most likely. The largest proportion of cases tends to be in 2-4 year olds.

Gastroenteritis can also be the result of food poisoning or a norovirus infection. Although this is much more common in adults.

Do you regularly see children with gastroenteritis?

Our Paediatric minor illness course may well prove useful. Aimed specifically at nurses, health visitors and other healthcare professionals who regularly come into contact with sick children. It provides an excellent chance to network and share ideas. Offering an overview of a variety of paediatric conditions in infants up to teenagers, it also focusses on effective history taking and examination skills.

The 3-day course takes place in London and is worth 21 hours of CPD. Spaces are still available on our February and late June 2020 courses but fill up quickly so make sure you secure yours today.

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