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: 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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Comment from: Firefly427, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: February 26

My gastroenteritis started off with having no appetite and feeling very bloated. As I suffer from IBS-C (irritable bowel syndrome with constipation) I thought it was that flaring up. After 2 days of feeling weak, bloated and no appetite, that evening I woke up writhing around in sweat in the worst pain ever due to serious stomach cramps. I crawled to the bathroom and laid on the floor as I was so light headed. I then threw up a chicken noodle soup I had eaten the previous night. Then the diarrhea started and stayed for 4 days along with horrific constant stomach cramps, headaches, chills, anxiety, light headedness and severe weakness. I know I am dehydrated and I am trying to sip water and Lucozade. On day 5 now, I still have severe stomach cramps and just a few sips of water bloats me up like a whale. This is the most distressing illness I have ever suffered from, including actual flu and I hope it will go away soon. No idea where I caught it from either, which doesn't help as it's making me nervous of everything I have done or eaten over the past 2 weeks!

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