Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) is essentially an inflammation of the stomach and intestine. When inflammation of the stomach is predominant, nausea and vomiting are prominent symptoms. When the intestines are most affected, abdominal cramps and diarrhea dominate the picture. However, it is not uncommon for patients to present a framework with extensive inflammation, suffering from vomiting and diarrhea at the same time. Pathophysiological causes of AGE are numerous, however viral, bacterial, and parasitic are the most common with viral being the most likely.
AGE is characterized by a rapid onset that lasts less than 2 weeks and may be accompanied by varying degrees of nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. Both vomiting and diarrhea are usually present, but either can occur alone with AGE. Symptoms depend on the underlying cause but may also include fatigue, malaise, anorexia, tenesmus, and borborygmus.
The physical exam is usually normal except for the aforementioned GI problems. Depending upon the degree of dehydration, mucous membranes may be dry and vital signs may reveal tachycardia and orthostatic hypotension and/or dizziness.