Types of Gastroenteritis and Their Treatments

Viral Gastroenteritis

As the name implies, it is caused by several types of viruses, and is usually highly contagious. In the United States, the viral gastroenteritis is mistakenly called ‘stomach flu’. However, the flu or the flu virus has nothing to do with this stomach infection.

Young children, the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases are at high risk, although viral gastroenteritis is usually overcome without specific medical treatment in healthy children.


It is highly contagious and is transmitted by contact with infected persons, by sharing food, water and eating utensils.


Antibiotics do not work to fight it, and high fluid intake prevents dehydration.

Bacterial Gastroenteritis

Not only is it highly contagious, it spreads from person to person, and also through contaminated food, whether through red meats, white meats, seafood, fruits or vegetables. The majority of cases of bacterial gastroenteritis are the result of intoxication from food in poor condition. Likewise, barnyard animals and certain types of reptiles can also spread bacteria with the touch that produce bacterial gastroenteritis.

Young children, seniors, and those with chronic illnesses are at high risk, but like viral gastroenteritis, bacterial disease is usually overcome without major complications.


It is important to note that bacterial gastroenteritis tends to develop due to poor hygiene, either by contact with feces or water whose treatment fails to eliminate bacteria or toxic substances. Although some animals are immune to such bacteria, humans are susceptible and get sick from contact with them.


Unlike viral gastroenteritis, certain types of bacterial gastroenteritis are treated with antibiotics not only to control and reduce symptoms, but to stop the spread to third parties. The doctor prescribes the antibiotics in those cases that the gastroenteritis is severe. Usually the main treatment that will be applied to your child is to keep him or her hydrated by making him or her consume a plenty of fluids to get the body to react favorably and stabilize.

In the most severe cases of bacterial gastroenteritis, your child is likely to be hospitalized to replenish fluids and salts in the body intravenously.

Parasite Gastroenteritis

The parasitic gastroenteritis is not as common in the countries where parasitic diseases in children are a major health problem, although infections of this type are associated with marginal communities in developing countries. It is not an exception and from time to time there are outbreaks that have forced health authorities to issue health warnings and ask the population to strengthen hygiene and stop consuming certain contaminated products.

Parasitic infections can occur in children at any age, even children can be born with the infection if their mother became contaminated during pregnancy.

One of the main differences with the other types of gastroenteritis is that in parasitic infection, the symptoms are longer, as it is the case of cyclospora gastroenteritis, whose symptoms can last up to two months and may even occur the relapses or reinfections later.


It is transmitted from person to person, but it is caused by the ingestion of cysts or oocysts present in the feces of the infected humans or animals, resulting from poor hygiene levels.


Only the pediatrician after doing the laboratory tests correspond to the fecal samples or through blood tests that will determine if your child will need to take antibiotics to treat the gastroenteritis caused by the parasites.

Types of Intestinal Parasites

Some of the intestinal parasites are as follows;

Giardiasis Pinworms or Intestinal Worms

This microscopic parasite interferes with the absorption capacity of your child’s fats and carbohydrates.


This parasite is ingested through contaminated water such as swimming pools. It is lodged in the small intestine and causes diarrhea, but it is usually benign and disappears in two weeks. In children with chronic conditions, it can be serious.

Strongyloides Stercoralis

The larva of this parasite can penetrate the child’s skin through the feet and is lodged in the duodenum and then reaches the lungs until it reaches the small intestine where it grows and becomes a worm.


It can be asymptomatic and spread through food infected with fecal matter, and its severe version interferes with the growth of the child.

Enterobius Vermicularis

This worm commonly infects pre-school children and is characterized by itching in the anus. It interferes with sleep and is associated with the grinding of teeth in children.

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