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Bacterial gastroenteritis

  • Alternative Names

    Infectious diarrhea - bacterial gastroenteritis; Acute gastroenteritis; Gastroenteritis - bacterial


    You will usually recover from the most common types of bacterial gastroenteritis within a couple of days. The goal is to make you feel better and avoid dehydration.

    These things may help you feel better if you have diarrhea:

    • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of clear fluids every day. Water is best.
    • Drink at least 1 cup of liquid every time you have a loose bowel movement.
    • Eat small meals throughout the day, instead of 3 big meals.
    • Eat some salty foods, such as pretzels, soup, and sports drinks.
    • Eat some high potassium foods, such as bananas, potatoes without the skin, and watered-down fruit juices.

    Give your child fluids for the first 4 to 6 hours. At first, try 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of fluid every 30 to 60 minutes.

    Try an over-the-counter drink, such as Pedialyte or Infalyte. Do not water down these drinks. Pedialyte is also available as a popsicle.

    Watered-down fruit juice, or broth, may also help.

    See also: Diarrhea in children

    If you have diarrhea and are unable to drink fluids because of nausea or vomiting, you may need to go to the hospital to receive fluids through a vein (IV). This is especially true for young children.

    If you take diuretics, talk to your health care provider. You may need to stop taking the diuretic while you are sick. Never stop or change medications without talking to your health care provider and getting specific instructions.

    Antibiotics are usually not prescribed for most common types of bacterial gastroenteritis, unless the diarrhea is extremely severe.

    Do not use over-the-counter medicines to treat diarrhea without talking to your doctor first. They should not be given to children.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Most of the time, you get better within a week if you drink enough fluids.

    Rarely, kidney failure or death have occured in people with bacterial gastroenteritis.


    Complications may include:

    • Anemia
    • Body-wide (systemic) infection
    • Not enough water in your body (dehydration)
    • Kidney failure (rare)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have:

    • Blood or pus in your stools
    • Black stools
    • Stomach pain that does not go away after a bowel movement
    • Symptoms of dehydration (thirst, dizziness, light-headedness)
    • Diarrhea with a fever above 101°F (100.4°F in children)
    • Recently traveled to a foreign country and developed diarrhea

    Also call your doctor if:

    • The diarrhea gets worse or does not get better in 2 days for an infant or child, or 5 days for adults
    • A child over 3 months old has been vomiting for more than 12 hours; in younger babies, call as soon as vomiting or diarrhea begins