Gastrointestinal Infection: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Gastrointestinal Infection: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

What are the symptoms of gastrointestinal infection?

Symptoms of GI illness include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation; abdominal pain; fever; chills; headache (migraine); muscle aches; fatigue; dizziness or weakness. These are some of the common symptoms associated with acute gastrointestinal infections such as food poisoning or viral gastroenteritis.

How long does it take before the symptoms appear?

The onset of symptoms usually occurs within 2 hours after eating contaminated food. The duration depends upon the type of bacteria present in the food and how much time passes between ingestion and onset of symptoms. However, most cases resolve without any intervention within 24 hours. Some people may have milder symptoms than others but they will recover completely when treated appropriately.

Are there other causes of gastrointestinal symptoms besides food poisoning?

Yes, many different things can cause these types of symptoms. For example, allergic reactions are another possible cause. Other causes include medications used for treating conditions like depression or anxiety. Certain medical procedures can also lead to gastrointestinal problems including surgery, chemotherapy treatments and certain drugs taken during pregnancy. If you think your child might have had a reaction to something at school or home, call your pediatrician immediately!

What are the treatments for food poisoning?

Treatment for food poisoning varies depending upon the cause. In most cases, doctors recommend over-the-counter medication and rest. Staying hydrated is very important in fighting symptoms of GI illness. Some over-the-counter anti-diarrheal drugs can be also given to reduce the frequency of loose stools and vomiting. However, these drugs are not helpful in all cases, so it’s best to consult with a physician before taking them.

What is the outlook for people with food poising?

Most people will recover completely within hours to days without any need for medical treatment. However, symptoms can last up to a week. Very rarely (1-2%) some people may suffer from complications such as kidney failure or even death.

How is the prognosis for food poisoning?

The prognosis depends on the cause of illness. For example, most people who suffer from food poisoning caused by bacteria will have a very good prognosis.

Is it safe to eat eggs and meat that has been left out for hours?

No! This is one of the reasons why many people get sick. While eating a couple of hours after the recommended time is not going to make you sick, eating food that has been left out for more than this period could make you sick.

Sources & references used in this article:

Common intestinal parasites by CJ Kucik, GL Martin, BV Sortor – American family physician, 2004 – aafp.org

Gastrointestinal cytomegalovirus disease by RW Goodgame – Annals of internal medicine, 1993 – acpjournals.org

Acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding in critically ill patients: causes and treatment modalities by SA Conrad – Critical care medicine, 2002 – journals.lww.com

Gastrointestinal dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease by A Fasano, NP Visanji, LWC Liu, AE Lang… – The Lancet …, 2015 – Elsevier

Gastrointestinal manifestations of HIV infection by D Sharpstone, B Gazzard – The Lancet, 1996 – Elsevier