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Enteritis

Enteritis is inflammation of the small intestine.

Images

Salmonella typhi organism
Yersinia enterocolitica organism
Campylobacter jejuni organism
Clostridium difficile organism
Digestive system
Esophagus and stomach anatomy

Causes

Enteritis is most often caused by eating or drinking things that are contaminated with bacteria or viruses. The germs settle in the small intestine and cause inflammation and swelling.

Enteritis may also be caused by:

The inflammation can also involve the stomach (gastritis) and large intestine (colitis).

Risk factors include:

Types of enteritis include:

Symptoms

The symptoms may begin hours to days after you become infected. Symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

Tests may include:

Treatment

Mild cases often do not need treatment.

Antidiarrheal medicine is sometimes used.

You may need rehydration with electrolyte solutions if your body does not have enough fluids.

You may need medical care and fluids through a vein (intravenous fluids) if you have diarrhea and cannot keep fluids down. This is often the case with young children.

If you take diuretics (water pills) or an ACE inhibitor and develop diarrhea, you may need to stop taking the diuretics. However, do not stop taking any medicine without first talking to your health care provider.

You may need to take antibiotics.

People who have Crohn disease will often need to take anti-inflammatory medicines (not NSAIDs).

Outlook (Prognosis)

Symptoms most often go away without treatment in a few days in otherwise healthy people.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

Note: In babies, the diarrhea can cause severe dehydration that comes on very quickly.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

Prevention

The following steps may help prevent enteritis:

Related Information

Gastritis
Colitis
Abdominal pain
Diarrhea
Fever
Dehydration
Food poisoning
Salmonella enterocolitis
Shigellosis
Campylobacter infection
Bacterial gastroenteritis
Radiation enteritis
Crohn disease

References

DuPont HL, Okhuysen PC. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 267.

Melia JMP, Sears CL. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 110.

Lima AAM, Warren CA, Guerrant RL. Acute dysentery syndromes (diarrhea with fever). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 99.

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 131.

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Review Date: 4/6/2020  

Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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