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: Barry, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 04

I got gastroenteritis while I was on vacation. Vomiting and severe diarrhea. When I got home I went to my GI doctor because by that time it had been 5 days and I was getting dehydrated. He gave me Flagyl and within a couple of days I was feeling much better.

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Comment from: ahartmeyer25, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: March 26

I"ve had the stomach flu for 6 days now. First day was vomiting profusely and diarrhea at the same time. After several hours I decided to go to the hospital. I was so dehydrated the doctor admitted me for the night, gave me some Phenergan and fluid through IV. I felt better the next day, just exhausted from the night's events. I vomited so hard that the blood vessels in my face and eyes busted, so I looked rather gross as blood pooled in the whites of my eyes. By day 3 I was a lot better, just had no appetite and slept a lot. Day 4 and 5 I finally ate solid food and was able to keep it down. Day 6 I still have diarrhea and my stomach is making loud gurgling sounds with bad gas. Not sure what that"s about, but I feel 90% better and will return to work on Monday after being out for four days.

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