Gastroenteritis - Diagnosed

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How is gastroenteritis diagnosed?

Gastroenteritis is most often presumptively diagnosed by the symptom(s) it produces (mainly diarrhea). Because gastroenteritis is usually a self-limited disease, the large majority of people are never seen or diagnosed by a doctor. There are no specific tests for gastroenteritis. However, during outbreaks like those seen on cruise ships, viral and bacterial cultures or PCR and other immunologically-based tests can eventually identify the causative pathogen. By the time this identification occurs, most of the patients with gastroenteritis have begun to recover. When gastroenteritis symptoms become severe, most public health officials and health care professionals run such tests to identify the causative agent of a specific disease, based on all of the patient's history, physical exam, and symptoms. In addition, patients with similar histories of recent food or drink they had in common with others often helps to discover the source of the disease (for example, people who got diarrhea had salads from the same food provider).

Return to Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)

See what others are saying

Comment from: 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: November 04

Mine started the same day (pretty sure it was something I ate). I didn't vomit a lot, maybe twice the first the night, but I felt lightheaded and dizzy, I went to the urgent care the same night thinking I had food poisoning. They gave me medicine for my nausea. Day 2 I worked and felt fine, just no appetite. Day 3 I worked, but left early feeling weak and bothered. Then things got bad, I was dizzy, had weird head tingles (numbness feeling) and went to the ER. I had an IV to rehydrate myself, and they told me I had gastroenteritis, everyday for up to a week (still a bit sick now) I've felt weak, tired, no appetite, groggy and my anxiety is horrible. I've been sticking to the BRAT diet, water, and Gatorade. I'm going to my doctor again soon to check up. I'm not nauseous or having diarrhea, but my body feels weak probably from not eating hardly. Hope this helps, feel better if you're reading this, I know it's hard to deal with!

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Comment from: 65-74 (Patient) Published: May 30

Having been born with it in England, 14 other children died from gastroenteritis. I was fed through tubes for over 6 months. Only 2 of us lived out of 16 (I had to be revived once). I am not partial to food. I often have an upset stomach. Fast foods really make me sick, even the smell of it. My husband thought it was all in my head, from a past food poisoning. I eat breakfast and supper after work. I do not snack. I constantly feel bloated, for as long as I can remember! Doctors have never offered any relief. I am extremely sensitive to any pain pills (vomiting). Therefore, they tell me there is nothing they can do for me. Recently, I began taking probiotics. Some relief, very little.

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