Collective name for inflammation of the mucous membrane of stomach and intestine, usually caused by a virus (gastric flu), less often by a bacterium (paratyphoid) or bacterial poisoning (toxins, food poisoning), and sometimes poisonous substances (alcohol, medicines, fungi, lead). The condition can vary from slight inflammation causing little discomfort to a dangerous condition which can lead to dehydration, especially in children. Characteristic signs are nausea and vomiting, cramp, watery diarrhoea, sensitive abdomen, sometimes dehydration and even shock, especially in children. Recovery is usually spontaneous after a few days. Generally speaking, extensive examination is not necessary to establish the cause, and a doctor need not be consulted, but if the condition is severe or persistent blood tests (for anti-viral antibodies) or a culture of the faeces may be necessary. The likelihood of gastroenteritis is increased by excessive consumption of stimulants.

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