Gastroenteritis - Treatment

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How is gastroenteritis treated?

Most people with gastroenteritis require no formal treatment. The key to a rapid and safe recovery at home (home remedy) is proper hydration. Home treatment consists of adequate fluid intake so dehydration is prevented. Clear fluids are recommended (Pedialyte especially for young children, Gatorade, PowerAde and other sports drinks), but not fruit juices or milk as they may prolong the symptoms. If dehydration occurs, the patient should be evaluated by a doctor. Many health care professionals choose to begin IV fluids, the treatment of choice for rapid rehydration.

Other medications may be prescribed to reduce the symptoms of gastroenteritis. To reduce vomiting, promethazine (Phenergan), prochlorperazine (Compazine), or ondansetron (Zofran) are often used. Some physicians suggest using these agents only as a suppository or rapidly disintegrating tablet on the tongue since patients may vomit the pills up. Others may prescribe diphenoxylate and atropineomotil (Lomotil) or lopermadine (Imodium) to slow diarrhea while others do not as they may prolong the disease. Many doctors recommend no medical treatment for gastroenteritis symptoms as all of the drugs have side effects and if the patient stays well hydrated, the symptoms usually stop soon anyway.

As the gastroenteritis symptoms abate, especially vomiting, doctors may recommend a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apples and toast) for a day or two before returning to the patient's regular diet.

Patients who have more serious symptoms or other symptoms in addition to gastroenteritis need to be evaluated, diagnosed, and treated by a physician because the patient will likely have a specific disease that will need treatment. The treatment will depend on the cause of the illness (for example, salmonellosis or Clostridium difficile toxin). Antibiotics and other treatments may not be recommended for some of these diseases so an accurate diagnosis of the disease is important. For Clostridium difficile infected patients, antibiotic sensitivity testing may need to be done to determine the most effective antibiotics to use.

Return to Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)

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Comment from: checker, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: November 04

Mine started at about 2:30 a.m., waking me from a deep sleep with stomach cramps. I thought I had heartburn, so I took something for the heartburn and used the restroom. Everything was normal and I got back in bed. About 45 minutes later, I was vomiting in the trash can, trying to make it to the restroom, because I now have diarrhea. So, I'm sitting on the toilet with trash can in hand and diarrhea running out the other end. My stomach kept gurgling. By the time the clock went off for me to go to work at 5 a.m., I was exhausted and also had a horrible headache. I got in to see my doctor the same day, who gave me promethazine for the nausea and vomiting. The doctor said it was a 24-48-hour virus, but it was more like 48-72 hours. I hope this never hits me again.

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Comment from: 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: November 04

This is my second time getting this. The first time was a one-time vomiting. After that I was fine. The second time was different. It started with eating some Stroganoff. I woke up at 3am in the morning with terrible stomach pains Nausea came after that I vomited two to three times after that. The pain went away only if I were sleeping. I drank Sprite to hydrate well and Alka Selzer for the stomach pains. It soothed my stomach for a moment but has since returned.

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