(Stomach Flu; Stomach Bug)
by Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH
Viral gastroenteritis is an infection of the intestines and stomach.
It is caused by one of many viruses. The virus can spread easily through fluids of the mouth and nose. It is passed to surfaces and objects where it can live for hours. People touch the surface with the virus then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. This is the easiest way for the virus to spread. The virus may also be spread through food or water that has the virus. Some common viruses include:
Risk Factors TOP
Children and older adults are more likely to get this infection. It can spread easily in:
The symptoms begin 1 to 2 days after you have contact with the virus. They usually last 1 to 2 days.
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam may be done. The doctor will suspect a virus based in symptoms.
The stool may need to be tested if the illness is severe or not passing. It will help to find the exact cause of the infection.
Antibiotics are not helpful against a virus. The infection will pass on its own. There are steps to help you feel more comfortable. It is also important to prevent dehydration.
Most gastroenteritis will only need home care. However, call your doctor if you:
Call your doctor if your child:
To help reduce your chances of viral gastroenteritis:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Norovirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus. Updated October 5, 2018. Accessed December 12, 2018.
Norovirus infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114466/Norovirus-infection. Updated July 31, 2017. Accessed December 12, 2018.
Rotavirus gastroenteritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Updated September 26, 2018. Accessed December 12, 2018.
Viral gastroenteritis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/viral-gastroenteritis. Updated May 2018. Accessed December 12, 2018.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcie L. Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 12/12/2018
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.