What is bacterial gastroenteritis?

19 May 2017
Comments: 0
19 May 2017, Comments: 0

Bacterial gastroenteritis occurs if bacteria triggers an infection in the gut. This results to inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Other symptoms that might arise include diarrhea, vomiting and intense abdominal cramping.

In most cases, bacterial gastroenteritis occurs from poor hygiene. It can also occur after close exposure to animals or consumption of food or water contaminated by the bacteria.

What are the indications?

The symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis tend to vary depending on the bacteria responsible for the infection such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting


    The symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis tend to vary depending on the bacteria responsible for the infection.

  • Appetite loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Blood-streaked stools
  • Abdominal pain and cramping

A doctor must be consulted if the symptoms do not seem to settle after 5 days. In case a child who is older than 3 months has continuous vomiting after 12 hours, consult a doctor. If an infant is younger than 3 months with vomiting or diarrhea, get in touch with a doctor.

Management of bacterial gastroenteritis

The treatment is aimed on keeping the body hydrated and avoiding any complications. It is vital not to lose excess salt such as potassium and sodium. The body requires these in certain amounts to function properly.

For serious cases of bacterial gastroenteritis, being admitted to a hospital is required so that fluids and salts can be given intravenously. Antibiotics are generally reserved for severe cases.

Home measures for mild cases

For mild cases of bacterial gastroenteritis, the condition can be managed at home with the following:

  • Drink more fluids regularly throughout the day especially after episodes of diarrhea
  • Avoid using any medications until a doctor is consulted
  • Eat small meals often and include some salty foods
  • Consume foods or beverages with potassium such as bananas and fruit juices
  • Bring the individual to the hospital if he/she cannot hold any fluids down

The individual should avoid dairy or high-fiber foods to prevent diarrhea from worsening.


If an individual has gastroenteritis, safety precautions must be observed to prevent the spread of bacteria to others.

  • Thoroughly wash hands before handling food and after using the bathroom
  • Do not prepare food for others until the symptoms completely settle.
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk, raw shellfish or raw meat.
  • Use separate utensils and cutting boards for cooked and raw meats when preparing food.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on bacterial gastroenteritis is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this type of gastroenteritis, register for a first aid and CPR course with Ottawa First Aid.

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