An inflammation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, particularly of the stomach and the colon
Gastroenteritis is an acute inflammation of the lining of the stomach and the large intestine (colon). It is marked by the following symptoms: anorexia, nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weakness, which has various causes, including food poisoning due to infection with organisms such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella species, consumption of irritating food or drink or psychological factors such as anger, stress and fear. It lasts less than two weeks in most cases.
Pathogens causing gastroenteritis include viruses, bacteria, fungus, and parasites. Viral gastroenteritis is colloquially called stomach flu. It is contracted by eating or drinking contaminated food or water or by ingesting or putting into the mouth objects (e.g. utensils) that are contaminated. Common viruses that cause gastroenteritis are novoviruses, rotaviruses, adenoviruses, astroviruses, etc. Gastroenteritis is also associated with the presence of certain protozoans, i.e. most commonly Giargia lamblia.
Non-infectious factors causing gastroenteritis include taking certain medications (e.g. NSAIDs), lactose intolerance, and certain diseases such as Crohn’s disease.
Word origin: Greek gastēr, gastros (“belly, paunch”) + Latin enteron (“intestine”) + –itis
- infectious diarrhea
- stomach flu