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Gastroenteritis

Inflammation of the intestines, often causing sudden stress that lasts for two to three days.  Food poisoning, cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery and traveller’s diarrhoea are all types of gastroenteritis.  It can be brought on by a variety of bacteria, viruses, bacterial toxins, and other organisms in water or food.  There are also a range of non-infectious causes, such as certain irritant drugs and food intolerance. 

The common symptoms are vomiting, cramps, nausea, appetite loss and diarrhoea.  Their onset and severity depend on the cause; symptoms can be mild, or can be so extreme that shock, collapse, and dehydration occur. 

Mild cases will often only require rest and rehydration therapy.  For severe illness, hospital treatment may be needed, with fluids administered by intravenous infusion.  Antibiotic drugs can be given for some bacterial infections, but others need no specific treatment.  


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