Noninfectious Gastroenteritis (Adult)

Gastroenteritis can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping in the belly. This may occur from food sensitivity, inflammation of your digestive tract, medicines, stress, or other causes not related to infection. Your symptoms will usually last from 1 to 3 days, but can last longer. Antibiotics don't work against this illness. Simple home treatment will help.

Home care

Medicine

  • You may use acetaminophen or NSAID medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen to control fever, unless another medicine is prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or ever had a stomach ulcer or digestive bleeding, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines.)Aspirin should never be used in anyone under 18 years of age who is ill with a fever. It may cause severe liver damage. Don't increase your NSAID medicines if you are already taking these medicines for another condition such as arthritis. Don't use NSAIDs if you are on aspirin. For example, if you take aspirin for heart disease or after a stroke.

  • If medicines for diarrhea or vomiting are prescribed, take only as directed.

General care and preventing spread of the illness

  • If symptoms are severe, rest at home for the next 24 hours or until you feel better.

  • Washing your hands with soap and clean, running water is the best way to prevent the spread of infection. Wash your hands after touching anyone who is sick.

  • Teach all people in your home when and how to wash their hands Wet your hands with clean, running water. Lather soap on the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you need a timer, try humming the Happy Birthday song from beginning to end twice. Rinse your hands well and dry using a clean towel.

  • Wash your hands after using the toilet, touching animals, coughing or sneezing, preparing meals, and before eating meals.

  • Clean the toilet after each use.

  • Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol can make your diarrhea, cramping, and pain worse. Consider having less or giving up these things until you have recovered.

Diet

  • Water and clear liquids are important so you don't get dehydrated. Drink a small amount at a time.

  • Don't force yourself to eat, especially if you have cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea. When you finally decide to start eating, don't eat large amounts at a time, even if you are hungry.

  • If you eat, don't have fatty, greasy, spicy, or fried foods.

  • Don't eat dairy products if you have diarrhea. They can make the diarrhea worse.

During the first 24 hours (the first full day), follow the diet below

  • Beverages. Water, clear liquids, soft drinks without caffeine, mineral water (plain or flavored), and decaffeinated tea and coffee.

  • Soups. Clear broth, consommé, and bouillon. Sports drinks aren't a good choice because they have too much sugar and not enough electrolytes. In this case, use products called oral rehydration solutions.

  • Desserts. Plain gelatin, ice pops, and fruit juice bars.

During the next 24 hours (the second day)

During the second day, you may add to the above list if you are better. If not, continue what you did the first day.

  • Hot cereal, plain toast, bread, rolls, or crackers

  • Plain noodles, rice, mashed potatoes, or chicken noodle or rice soup

  • Unsweetened canned fruit and bananas. Don't eat pineapple or citrus.

  • Limit caffeine and chocolate. No spices or seasonings except salt.

During the next 24 hours

  • Gradually go back to a normal diet, as you feel better and your symptoms improve.

  • If at any time your symptoms start getting worse, go back to clear liquids until you feel better.

Food preparation

  • If you have diarrhea, don't prepare food for others. When you  prepare food for yourself, wash your hands before and after.

  • Wash your hands after using cutting boards, countertops, and knives that have been in contact with raw food.

  • Keep uncooked meats away from cooked and ready-to-eat foods.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider if you are not improving over the next 2 to 3 days, or as advised. If a stool (diarrhea) sample was taken, call for the results as directed.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Chest pain

  • Confusion

  • Severe drowsiness or trouble awakening

  • Seizure

  • Stiff neck

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur: 

  • Increasing belly pain or constant lower right belly pain

  • Continued vomiting (unable to keep liquids down)

  • Frequent diarrhea (more than 5 times a day)

  • Blood in vomit or stool (black or red color)

  • Inability to tolerate solid food after a few days.

  • Dark urine, reduced urine output

  • Weakness or dizziness

  • Drowsiness

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38.0ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • New rash

  • Symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms

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