Pediatric gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis (gas·​tro·​en·​ter·​i·​tis) or the stomache flu is common in children and teens. At Children's Health℠, our expert gastroenterologists treat the common and rare infections that cause gastroenteritis. Our goal is to stop a child’s symptoms and get them back to their daily activities. Our dedication to your child’s digestive health has earned us recognition as a top pediatric specialty by U.S. News and World Report.


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What is pediatric gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis, also called the stomach flu, is caused by an infection in your child’s digestive system. They may have diarrhea or vomiting, which helps clear the infection from their body.

Healthy children generally recover quickly. However, it can take longer for a child with a weakened immune system to feel better. The longer a child is sick, the higher their risk of dehydration becomes.

What are the different types of pediatric gastroenteritis?

Viral gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis is caused by a virus like norovirus. It’s the most common kind of gastroenteritis.

Bacterial gastroenteritis

This type of gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria, like E. coli.

Parasitic gastroenteritis

Parasitic gastroenteritis is caused by a parasite like giardia. It is uncommon in areas with clean water and food.

What are the signs and symptoms of pediatric gastroenteritis?

How is pediatric gastroenteritis diagnosed?

Usually, your doctor can diagnose gastroenteritis by hearing about your child’s symptoms. However, if your child has blood or pus in their stool, your child’s doctor may want to do a stool test to determine what type of bacteria, virus or parasite they have.

What causes pediatric gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria, parasites or viruses. Your child may come into contact with these by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water or touching the saliva of an infected person.

How is pediatric gastroenteritis treated?


Typically, gastroenteritis doesn’t need medical treatment. Your child should stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids. You can use over-the-counter medicines to fight fever.

If your child is dehydrated

If your child becomes severely dehydrated, they may need IV fluids at the hospital. If they are very tired, not drinking and not peeing, then you should take them to the emergency room for care.

You should also call your pediatrician or take your child for medical care if they:

  • Have blood or pus in their stool
  • Vomit for more than 24 hours
  • Have a high fever:
    • above 100.4℉ in babies younger than 3 months
    • above 102.2℉ for kids 3 months or older

Pediatric gastroenteritis doctors and providers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What happens if gastroenteritis isn’t treated?

    Most children will recover from gastroenteritis on their own without treatment.

  • How long does gastroenteritis last in children?

    Most children will stop vomiting within 24 hours and stop having diarrhea within a few days. If their symptoms last longer, please call your pediatrician.