Infectious Diarrhea: Overview

Infectious Diarrhea refers to a variety of different infectious causes of a diarrheal illness. The most common is a viral infection of the digestive system which causes viral gastroenteritis. Many other types and causes of diarrhea may have a contagious nature, whereby they can be caught by others. One typical route of contagion is “fecal-oral”, which refers to infected feces, or food/water contaminated with feces of an infected person, entering the oral region of another person (i.e. eating or drinking water). Direct contact with an infected person’s hands or fluids can also cause infection. Incubation period depends on the particular type of infectious agent. Symptoms also vary, but some typical symptoms would include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, malaise, tiredness, low appetite, and so on. Patients may use terminology such as a “stomach upset” or a “vomiting bug”. Some people who find themselves with these symptoms will blame it on “something I ate” (i.e. food poisoning), but a contagious form of diarrhea is usually more likely. Nevertheless, the differential diagnosis does need to include food poisoning, food intolerances, other infectious diseases (traveler’s diarrhea, giardia, cholera, etc.), and a variety of other acute digestive disorders (colitis, enteritis), and in some cases chronic digestive disorders. As with all forms of diarrhea or vomiting illness, one of the main concerns is the prevention and treatment of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can become serious. Treatment of simple cases of diarrhea is usually symptomatic, with additional treatment of any underlying cause.

   •   •   •

Back to: « Infectious Diarrhea

Related Articles

Related Symptoms

Related Disease Topics

Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.