Treating Gastroenteritis at Home

Are you feeling unwell with a stomach bug or gastroenteritis? This article provides helpful tips on how to ease symptoms and recover from gastroenteritis at home. You’ll discover effective remedies to reduce the discomfort quickly and safely.

Quick facts: Treating Gastroenteritis At Home

  • ✅ The majority of cases of gastroenteritis can be successfully treated at home. (American College of Gastroenterology)
  • ✅ According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the best home treatment for gastroenteritis is to rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat a bland diet.
  • ✅ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting contact with others if you have gastroenteritis, as it can be contagious.
  • ✅ The World Health Organization states that hand-washing with soap and water is key to prevent the spread of gastroenteritis.
  • ✅ The CDC also recommends avoiding anti-diarrheal medications if it is not prescribed by a doctor. (CDC)

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Gastroenteritis is a common digestive disorder that can occur after eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. It is often referred to as the “stomach flu” and can be caused by many pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.

In some cases, treatment may not be necessary if the symptoms are mild and only last a few days; however, it is important to take the correct steps in order to properly treat gastroenteritis so that the symptoms do not worsen. This article will provide an overview of how to treat gastroenteritis at home. Specifically it will discuss:

  • Self-care tips for managing symptoms;
  • Treatments for more severe cases of gastroenteritis;
  • When to seek medical attention; and
  • How to prevent further spread of the illness.

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract that is caused by a virus or bacteria. Common symptoms of gastroenteritis include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever

It is important to be aware of the specific symptoms of gastroenteritis so that you can accurately recognize it and seek appropriate medical treatment if necessary. In this article, we will take a closer look at the symptoms of gastroenteritis.

Abdominal pain

Abdominal pain is a common symptom of gastroenteritis. The abdominal pain associated with gastroenteritis can range from mild to severe and can be localized to one area or felt all over the abdomen. Abdominal pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and chills.

Pain in the lower right side of the abdomen could also indicate appendicitis, so it is important to seek medical help if you experience any severe or persistent abdominal pain.

Gastroenteritis is generally treated with rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter medications such as:

  • anti-diarrheal drugs
  • anti-nausea medications

Severe cases may require antibiotics or hospitalization for intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolyte replacement.


Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of gastroenteritis and can range from mild to severe. It is characterized by frequent loose stools, abdominal pain, cramping, and fever. Diarrhea can occur either as a result of a bacterial or viral infection or as an allergic reaction to certain foods or medications.

Treatment for diarrhea typically involves:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Limiting dairy products and fiber-rich foods which can irritate the gut lining further.
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods.

If symptoms do not improve after 24 to 48 hours or if diarrheal stools are accompanied by high fever, severe abdominal pain, or bloody stools then medical attention should be sought immediately as it may indicate a more serious underlying condition.

Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are two of the most frequent symptoms of gastroenteritis. Nausea is an uneasy sensation in the stomach that may lead to a feeling of discomfort or even wanting to vomit. Vomiting is the forceful ejection of stomach contents out of the mouth. It can affect people of all ages, and it commonly occurs after eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

In most cases, nausea and vomiting subside shortly after treatment has begun. It is important to note that in some instances, these symptoms may be indicative of more serious underlying conditions such as food poisoning, appendicitis, kidney stones, and other forms of abdominal pain.

Treatment for nausea and vomiting associated with gastroenteritis typically includes:

  • Bed rest
  • Hydration with clear fluids such as water or sports drinks
  • Over-the-counter anti-emetic medications such as Gravol or Emetrol
  • Bland foods such as toast, crackers and jello


Fever is one of the most common symptoms people experience when they have gastroenteritis. This may be mild, or in more serious cases it may be high enough to warrant seeing a doctor. In addition to fever, other associated symptoms include chills, headache and general body aches.

If you are experiencing a fever with your gastroenteritis it is important to rest and stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol as this can worsen dehydration. If your fever is high enough, over 100 degrees Fahrenheit seek medical advice for possible testing and treatment.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite is a common symptom of gastroenteritis. When suffering from gastroenteritis, it is normal to feel disinterested in food, as eating can trigger abdominal discomfort, nausea, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Loss of appetite may last for a few days to even weeks after the onset of other gastrointestinal issues.

Gastroenteritis sufferers who experience a drastic decrease in appetite may wish to supplement their diets with protein powder or small portions of bland food such as bananas or crackers to ensure they are consuming adequate amounts of nutrients. It is typically recommended that people get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids when experiencing gastroenteritis-related loss of appetite.

Additionally, it’s important to seek medical attention if you’re experiencing severe symptoms or if they persist beyond two weeks.

Causes of Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is a common gastrointestinal illness, caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. It is also known as “stomach bugs” and can be spread through contact with an infected person or food item. Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea.

Let’s look at some of the causes of gastroenteritis:

Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections are one of the most common causes of Gastroenteritis. This type of infection is caused when bacteria enters the gastrointestinal tract, leading to inflammation and irritation. The symptoms associated with this include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping and pain, vomiting, fever and chills.

The most common bacteria that causes this condition is Salmonella, E.coli and Shigella flexneri. In some cases, a certain strain of bacteria may not be identified but still cause Gastroenteritis.

Other bacterial agents that can also lead to this infection are Campylobacter jejuni and Yersinia enterocolitica as well as other types of bacteria such as Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). All these infections are highly contagious and treatment should begin immediately to reduce the risk of developing a more serious condition such as sepsis or even death in some cases.

Viral infections

Viral infections are one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis. This occurs when a person is infected by any one of a number of different viruses that can cause inflammation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some examples of these types of viruses include Norovirus, rotavirus, and astrovirus.

These types of viral infections are more common in children than adults and typically have an incubation period of between 1 to 3 days. Symptoms may last for up to 10 days in some cases and require only supportive measures such as rest, fluids, electrolytes, and anti-nausea medications to help alleviate symptoms.

Parasitic infections

Parasitic infections are a common cause of gastroenteritis. These can include protozoan parasites like Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium, and helminth parasites like threadworm, roundworm, and tapeworm.

Protozoa and helminths produce eggs which can be spread through contaminated food or water, or direct contact with infected individuals. These organisms enter the digestive system where they can feed on the food being digested, leading to abdominal discomfort and cramps. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia in severe cases.

Treatment typically involves medications such as anti-parasite drugs like Mebendazole or Metronidazole to eradicate the infection.

Food poisoning

Food poisoning is one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis and it occurs when people eat food that has been contaminated with a number of different bacteria, viruses, toxins or parasites. Contamination may occur during food preparation at home or in a restaurant.

Common causes of food poisoning include Salmonella, E. Coli, Clostridium botulinum and Staphylococcus aureus (staph). Symptoms can range from mild abdominal pain and nausea to severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Treatment includes rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications to reduce nausea or diarrhea. In some cases, antibiotics are prescribed to treat the underlying bacterial infection.

Treating Gastroenteritis at Home

Gastroenteritis is a common illness caused by an infection in the digestive system and can be treated at home in most cases. Symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever may occur and can usually be managed with lifestyle changes and home remedies.

Let’s look at how you can treat gastroenteritis at home:


Hydration is the key to treating gastroenteritis at home. It is important to replace the fluids and electrolytes lost due to vomiting and diarrhea. This can be done with oral rehydration solutions (ORS) available over the counter or an increased intake of water, juice, or sports drinks.

When it comes to water, plain water can help hydrate, but it doesn’t contain electrolytes which are essential for balance and rehydration. Therefore, a better option would be drinks with electrolytes such as ORS or sports drinks or even broth.

Ginger ale and fruit juices are also helpful in providing a bit of energy while drinking liquids helps reduce stomach upset. However, it is important to avoid sugary drinks such as soda and sweetened tea as these can make you feel worse if consumed in large amounts.


When treating gastroenteritis at home, it is important to pay close attention to what you eat. Eating a balanced diet that includes bland foods such as crackers and toast, is recommended. Avoid dairy, fats and greasy or spicy food until the symptoms subside.

Drinks such as clear soups, herbal teas, sports drinks and electrolyte solutions can help replace the fluids lost from vomiting or diarrhea. Additionally, it is important to keep up hydrating with plain water throughout the day in order to avoid dehydration.

Finally, if symptoms persist for more than three days please contact your doctor as further medical intervention may be required.

Over-the-counter medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be used to treat symptoms of gastroenteritis at home. These medications are intended to reduce discomfort and help you manage symptoms.

Some OTC medications available for treating gastroenteritis at home include:

  • Antacids help reduce stomach acid
  • Bismuth subsalicylate helps reduce loose stools and nausea
  • Loperamide helps control diarrhea

Be sure to read the medication’s instructions before using it as some OTC medications are not recommended for certain age groups or individuals with certain medical conditions. Additionally, some OTC medications should not be combined with other medicines without consulting your healthcare provider first.

Natural remedies

When it comes to treating gastroenteritis at home, natural remedies can be used to provide relief. These remedies are typically safe, are cost-effective and have little or no side effects.

Some common natural remedies for treating gastroenteritis include:

  • Drinking herbal teas, such as chamomile tea, which can provide relief from diarrhea symptoms as well as reduce inflammation in the digestive system.
  • Eating plain yogurt, which contains probiotics which help to reduce inflammation and restore the balance of bacteria in your intestine.
  • Consuming ginger, which has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the digestive tract and help reduce nausea.

Other natural remedies for treating gastroenteritis include:

  • Taking oral rehydration products.
  • Eating bland foods such as crackers and bananas.
  • Consuming peppermint tea.
  • Taking probiotic supplements.

Natural remedies can be used in combination with conventional treatment methods such as over-the-counter medications to provide fast relief from symptoms of gastroenteritis.

When to Seek Medical Help

Gastroenteritis is a common illness caused by a virus or bacteria which causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. In most cases, it can be treated at home with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medications. However, when the symptoms become severe, it is important to seek medical attention.

Let’s look at the signs when medical help should be sought:

Severe symptoms

Severe symptoms of gastroenteritis may require medical attention and treatment. If your symptoms do not improve or worsen sooner than expected, it is important to seek medical help from your doctor’s office or local emergency room.

Symptoms that may require medical attention include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever of 102°F (39°C) or higher
  • Vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours
  • Signs of dehydration (such as dark urine and dry skin)
  • Bloody stools
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
  • Chills and body aches

Other signs of a more serious infection requiring treatment may include difficulty breathing, confusion and persistent vomiting. If you have any concerns about your health due to gastroenteritis, seek prompt medical care.


Dehydration is one of the most serious effects of gastroenteritis or “stomach flu” and requires medical attention. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, low urine output, thirst, a light-headed feeling and tiredness. If any of these symptoms are present then it is important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening and require hospitalization for intravenous fluids. Doctors may also indicated medications to help stop passing watery stools or reduce vomiting.

Treatment for dehydration in an outpatient setting may involve oral rehydration solutions (ORS). ORS have been proven to be beneficial in helping individuals maintain normal hydration levels in the body, therefore reducing the risk of becoming dehydrated due to gastroenteritis.

High fever

High fever is well defined as a body temperature over 102°F (38.9°C). If a person has gastroenteritis and their fever exceeds this threshold, they should seek medical help. Other signs that prompt medical attention include:

  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Having blood in their stool
  • Vomiting more than three times per day
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

It is important to not just rely on the presence of a high fever to determine if medical help is needed for gastroenteritis. Other symptoms should be considered as well. High fever may also be accompanied by other signs of dehydration such as increased thirst, dry mouth, dark urine or infrequent urination. In addition, children experiencing high fevers due to gastroenteritis may become extremely sleepy and irritable and experience abdominal pain and cramping. If any of these symptoms are present in addition to high fever it is recommended that medical attention be sought right away.


In conclusion, gastroenteritis can be treated at home by taking steps listed above. It is important to remember that it is not usually necessary to seek medical help for gastroenteritis, and most cases can be managed with the support of friends and family. Gastroenteritis is rarely serious and will usually clear up within a few days without any lasting effects.

However, it is important to watch for signs of dehydration or more severe symptoms which may indicate a need for medical attention. Discussing your symptoms with a trusted health professional can also help you understand the best treatment plan for you and give you peace of mind.

FAQs about: Treating Gastroenteritis At Home

Q: What is gastroenteritis?

A: Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines that often results in vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Q: What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?

A: Symptoms of gastroenteritis can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and dehydration.

Q: How can gastroenteritis be treated at home?

A: To treat gastroenteritis at home, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, avoid eating solid foods, and take over-the-counter medications to reduce symptoms such as fever and abdominal pain.

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