First Time User? Enroll now.
As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, our visitor policy is evolving as well. Get full details.
For the most current information, please visit our Coronavirus resource pages.
Home > Health Library > Gastroenteritis in Adults and Older Children
Gastroenteritis is an upset stomach. It causes nausea and vomiting. You may also have diarrhea or a fever. It is sometimes called "stomach flu," but it is not the flu. Germs like viruses and bacteria can cause it.
You can catch it from someone else who has it, or you can get it from food poisoning. Food poisoning can happen if you eat foods that contain harmful germs. Germs can get into food while the food is growing, during processing, or when it is prepared. You may have become ill after eating meat or eggs that weren't cooked enough or by eating other unsafe foods or drinking unsafe water.
You will probably begin to feel better in 1 or 2 days, but you might feel bad for a week. In the meantime, get plenty of rest, and make sure you do not become dehydrated. Dehydration occurs when your body loses too much fluid. This can happen when you throw up a lot or have diarrhea.
You can usually take care of gastroenteritis at home.
The best thing you can do to keep from catching gastroenteritis from someone else is to make a habit of washing your hands often. This is especially important after you use the bathroom, after you change a baby's diaper, and before you eat or prepare food.
Don't share personal items like forks and spoons, toothbrushes, and towels. Try not to be around others who have stomach flu. Keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
You can prevent food poisoning by taking steps to make sure your food is not contaminated:
Other Works Consulted
Gottlieb T, Heather CS (2011). Diarrhoea in adults (acute), search date January 2010. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.