Enteritis is inflammation of the small intestine.
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:
Risk factors include:
Types of enteritis include:
The symptoms may begin hours to days after you become infected. Symptoms may include:
Tests may include:
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).
Symptoms most often go away without treatment in a few days in otherwise healthy people.
Complications may include:
Note: In babies, the diarrhea can cause severe dehydration that comes on very quickly.
Call your provider if:
The following steps may help prevent enteritis:
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.BACK TO TOP
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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