Shiken premium Upgrade Banner


Two main pathological processes are seen in acute gastroenteritis:

  • Secretory diarrhoea: toxins interfere with the secretion or reabsorption of water and electrolytes from the small bowel
  • Inflammatory diarrhoea: ileum/colon wall inflammation secondary to bacterial invasion/ toxin

Both features may coexist with the same pathogen.



  • Viruses: rotavirus, norovirus, coronavirus
  • Bacteria: E. coli, Vibrio cholera, Bacillus cereus (typically from uncooked rice dishes), Campylobacter spp., Salmonella spp.
  • Protozoa: Giardia intestinalis, Cryptosporidium parvum, Cyclospora cayetanensis


  • Viruses: rotavirus
  • Bacteria: E. coli, Shigella spp., Campylobacter spp., Yersinia spp., Clostridium difficile
  • Protozoa: Entamoeba histolytica, Balantidium coli


The main symptoms of acute gastroenteritis are anorexia, nausea and vomiting (especially in the first 24 hours), abdominal colic, diarrhoea, and fever.


Some of the physical signs of acute gastroenteritis are dehydration, fever, borborygmi, and abdominal tenderness.


  • Bloods: increased WCC in inflammatory diarrhoea, U&E
  • Microscopy: stool cultures and microscopy


Treatment of acute gastroenteritis usually consists of rehydration, which can be done orally with an rehydration solution, intravenously with IV fluids, and monitoring of fluid balance.


Complications of acute gastroenteritis may include dehydration and bacteraemic spread.


Frequent cause of infant mortality in developing countries, prognosis is an unavoidable and somber thought for many families. In adults, most are able to recover within a period of four days, although this is not guaranteed for all cases.

Join Shiken For FREE

Gumbo Study Buddy

Explore More Subject Explanations

Try Shiken Premium
for Free

14-day free trial. Cancel anytime.
Get Started
Join 10,000+ learners worldwide.
The first 14 days are on us
96% of learners report x2 faster learning
Free hands-on onboarding & support
Cancel Anytime