Acute enteritis is a medical term used to describe a sudden inflammation involving the small intestine. This condition can have a variety of causes, including the use of some medications, radiation therapy, or systemic illnesses such as Crohn's disease. Symptoms may include sudden abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or diarrhea. Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms and may include replacing lost fluids, medications, or rehydration in a hospital setting. Any questions or concerns about acute enteritis on an individual basis should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
In many cases, acute enteritis is caused by consuming food or water that has been contaminated by harmful bacteria. Autoimmune disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease may also cause recurring bouts of inflammation. Certain medications, including over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may lead to this condition, especially if more than the recommended dosage is taken. The exact cause of the inflammation is not always known, even if diagnostic tests are performed.
Symptoms of acute enteritis usually develop quickly and disappear without treatment within a few days. In more severe cases, severe diarrhea may lead to dehydration. A stool sample may be taken in an attempt to identify the specific type of bacteria causing the illness, but this test is not always performed. Antibiotics may be useful in treating certain types of bacterial infections that may lead to the development of acute enteritis.
Most cases of acute enteritis can be treated at home and do not require any specific medical treatment. It is usually a good idea to visit a doctor, especially if severe symptoms are present, in order to make sure there are no serious underlying medical conditions that need to be addressed. Over-the-counter medications designed to treat diarrhea may be helpful during the healing process, and plenty of fluids should be consumed in order to prevent dehydration.
If severe dehydration occurs, the patient with acute enteritis may need to be treated in a hospital setting for a few days. When this occurs, a small tube known as a catheter is inserted into a vein so that fluids and any necessary medications can be delivered directly into the bloodstream. If diuretics were being used prior to the development of symptoms, they may need to be discontinued until the patient recovers. No medication changes should be made without the prior consent of a physician.