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What Are Common Gastrointestinal Infection Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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Gastrointestinal infections occur when a person consumes bacteria or parasites that are harmful to the gastrointestinal system. A person who has ingested a harmful bacteria or parasite may suffer from common gastrointestinal infection symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Patients also may show signs of secondary gastrointestinal infection symptoms ranging from loss of appetite and fatigue to stomach cramps.

Diarrhea, or loose stool, is typically not something a person should worry about if it is a one-time occurrence. Chronic diarrhea, on the other hand, is at the top of the list of gastrointestinal infection symptoms. A person suffering from a gastrointestinal infection may have watery diarrhea multiple times an hour. Stomach pain may accompany the diarrhea.

A person suffering from continuous diarrhea will typically have to take off from school or work and stay near a restroom until the infection is out of his or her body. If a person notices blood in his or her stool, then a call should be placed to a doctor. Gastrointestinal infection symptoms such as excessive diarrhea also can cause a person to become dangerously dehydrated. People suffering from an infection of this type should be sure to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

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Many times the diarrhea caused by a gastrointestinal infection will be accompanied by a fever. A person can take some over-the-counter pain relievers to try to bring the fever down. Getting plenty of rest also is vital for people recovering from bowel issues.

Certain types of bacteria, such as salmonella, can cause other gastrointestinal infection symptoms, such as vomiting. People commonly get salmonella from eating undercooked or raw eggs or chicken. People who are sick from salmonella bacteria may throw up violently for several days. Salmonella also can be contagious, so infected people should stay away from others and wash their hands thoroughly. People can prevent future salmonella outbreaks by being sure not to cross-contaminate cutting boards and knives used with raw meats while cooking.

People with gastrointestinal infections of any type may feel extremely tired and experience a loss of appetite. If a person who is suffering from a gastrointestinal issue is not hungry, then he or she should still try to suck on ice chips or munch on plain crackers. A person suffering from a stomach infection should limit himself or herself to low-key activities such as reading, napping and watching TV. Working out or doing other strenuous activities while the body is dehydrated is not recommended.

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Discuss this Article

ysmina
Post 6

From my experience, when there is a gastrointestinal infection, it doesn't take long for the stomach and intestines to act up. I've always developed nausea, headaches and vomiting within a half hour of food poisoning.

ddljohn
Post 5

@burcinc-- Do you have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea?

Stomach pain can be due to bad bacteria in the stomach but if you don't develop other symptoms, you will probably be okay. Just take it easy, sip on warm milk and chamomile tea. Don't eat anything heavy or acidic. Stick to apple sauce and mashed potatoes for a few days and you will be fine.

There are different kinds of bad bacteria and they can cause different symptoms. Not all food that's gone bad leads to vomiting and diarrhea.

burcinc
Post 4

I ate some left-over lunch meat for dinner and it gave me a terrible stomach ache. My stomach has been hurting for the past three hours. I've taken antacids but it doesn't help. Do I have an infection?

pastanaga
Post 3

@indigomoth - I don't think anyone should take stupid risks, but I also think that sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind. You can't be completely on your guard every second of the day. I've picked up food poisoning from a friend's barbecue because someone forgot to put the potato salad into the fridge overnight (and boy did she regret it).

I think you've just got to learn how to treat it and what to do if it seems really serious (like call an ambulance), but otherwise just live life and take what comes.

indigomoth
Post 2

@Fa5t3r - Making yourself throw up might have helped, or it might not. Often, by the time we start to feel sick, the infection has already gone into the intestines and vomiting doesn't help.

The best way to avoid food poisoning is to make sure that your hands are clean (washed with soap and water) and that anyone who handles your plate, spoon and so forth also has clean hands. And only eat meals which have been heated thoroughly. The meat should be falling to bits, in fact.

On top of that, make sure all your water is safe, including the ice and washing water.

What often happens is that people will be very vigilant about washing and disinfecting their hands, but will eat cold rice with their stew, or drink a cocktail with ice in it, and will get the bacteria that way.

If you're very careful you can keep yourself safe.

Fa5t3r
Post 1

Food poisoning like this is the absolute worst. I've only had it happen to me a couple of times and each time was different and felt like it was even worse than the time before.

The third time it happened I started to feel sick and realized that I was about to become extremely sick, so I went and made myself vomit in order to stop it from being too bad.

I actually wonder if I saved my own life by doing that because I was still very ill for two days, to the point where I could hardly drag myself upright to get to the toilet.

This is the price you pay for traveling to interesting parts and I would pay it again if I had to, but not willingly!

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