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Gastroenteritis, the primary cause of death in developing countries, is, in Western countries, generally benign and most often viral. Beyond normal hygiene measures, probiotics may prove to be useful in treatment.

The cause is often contaminated food

Whether it’s viral, bacterial, or parasitic, gastroenteritis is triggered by the brutal introduction of a pathogen into the intestinal microbiota, which disturbs this well-established ecosystem. Infection results from contaminated water or food in the majority of cases, or directly via person-to-person contact.

Abdominal symptoms that don’t last

In addition to passing liquid stools several times a day, you’re probably suffering from nausea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. Some people may even have a fever and chills. They’re impressive symptoms but they generally disappear in a few days, except in certain cases of bacterial diarrhea.

The interview, the primary diagnostic tool

A diagnosis of gastroenteritis is based primarily on an interview in order to understand the context in which the infection arose and to determine its cause. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe stool tests so the treatment can be adapted.

Antibiotics often useless, even counterproductive 

The primary treatment is rehydration, whatever the cause of the gastroenteritis. Antibiotic treatment is far from obligatory, and is not justified unless a bacterial cause for the diarrhea has been determined. If this is not the case, antibiotics could prove to be counterproductive, given that the origin is usually viral. However, probiotics (ex. Saccharomyces boulardii) can limit the significance and duration of gastroenteritis by restoring microbiota.


Sources :
Beaugerie L, Sokol H. Diarrhees infectieuses aiguës de l’adulte : épidémiologie et prise en charge. Presse Med2013 ; 42 : 52-9.
Beaugerie L. Epidémiologie des diarrhées et colites aiguës infectieuses en France
Allen SJ, Martinez EG, Gregorio GV, Dans LF. Probiotics for treating acute infectious diarrhoea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;2010(11):CD003048. Published 2010 Nov 10.
Dinleyici EC, Eren M, Ozen M, Yargic ZA, Vandenplas Y. Effectiveness and safety of Saccharomyces boulardii for acute infectious diarrhea. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2012;12(4):395-410.