A Doctor's View on Gastroenteritis Diagnosis

Medical Author:

Comments by Dr. John Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Gastroenteritis is defined as swelling and inflammation of the stomach and the intestines caused by viruses or bacteria. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It is sometimes referred to as the "stomach flu" or food poisoning though it usually is neither.

A doctor will diagnose gastroenteritis by first taking a complete history of your symptoms. Often, lab test are not needed to diagnose this condition. However, if you have persistent fever or blood in your stool, stool study tests may be ordered. Rarely, ultrasounds, X-rays, or CT scans may be helpful in diagnosis.

A doctor will use your history and any test results to determine if you have gastroenteritis, and if the cause is viral or bacterial. Many other diseases can cause similar symptoms to gastroenteritis, so your doctor will rule out conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, colorectal cancer, peptic ulcer disease, gastritis or esophagitis, food poisoning, or serious bacterial infections.

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A Doctor's View on Gastroenteritis Diagnosis Resources

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Doctor written main article on Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)

REFERENCE: UpToDate. Management of acute viral gastroenteritis in adults.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2013