A Doctor's View on Gastroenteritis Diagnosis

Gastroenteritis is defined as swelling and inflammation of the stomach and the intestines caused by viruses or bacteria. Symptoms include:

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:

Read what other viewers are saying about how their case of gastroenteritis was diagnosed.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


UpToDate. Management of acute viral gastroenteritis in adults.