Know the basics
What is enteritis?
Enteritis is an inflammation that occurs in your small intestine. Enteritis is an umbrella term that include other intestine inflammation conditions, whether by bacteria or viruses. Inflammation conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, fall under enteritis.
Enteritis is a part of gastroenteritis (inflammation in the stomach and small intestine).
How common is enteritis?
Enteritis is common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of enteritis?
The common signs and symptoms of enteritis are:
- Abdominal cramps and pain;
- Loss of appetite;
- Mucus-like discharge from the rectum;
- Diarrhea – acute and severe.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Your symptoms last more than three or four days;
- You have a fever over 38˚C;
- You notice blood in your stools;
- You have symptoms of dehydration, including dry mouth, sunken eyes, lack of tears, low volume of urine, urine that is very dark in color, severe fatigue, soft spot on the top of the head of an infant, dizziness especially when standing up.
Know the causes
What causes enteritis?
There are many causes of enteritis. If you have infectious enteritis, the first cause may be the food poisoning. When you eat and ingest food or water that is contaminated with bacteria, these bacteria can come into your body and this results in enteritis. Many things can lead to contaminated food, like improper food handling, poor hygiene during poultry and meat processing. The foods most often associated with food poisoning are raw poultry and meat, unpasteurized milk, fresh produce.
- Enteristis can also come from bacterial or viral infection. The common bacteria responsible for causing enteritis are
- Salmonella: a common bacteria that causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.
- Escherichia coli: commonly known as E. coli, a virus that causes mild symptoms such as abdominal pain and fever to more severe symptoms such as bloody stool and kidney failure.
- Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus): a bacteria that can make 7 different kinds of toxin that will lead to food poisoning.
- Campylobacter jejuni (C. jejuni): another bacteria that commonly cause food poisoning.
- Shigella: a bacteria that causes shigellosis (Shigella infection), which affect the small intestine.
- Yersinia enterocolitica (Y. enterocolitica): a bacteria that causes acute diarrhea, but can also result in fatal sepsis.
Another cause of getting infectious enteritis is your contacting with infected people or infected animals but this is less common.
While experiencing radiation therapy can lead you to have radiation enteritis. Not only cancer cells but also healthy cells are killed during radiation therapy, including mouth, stomach, and bowel cells. The result is that radiation enteritis develops when your normal, healthy intestinal cells are damaged by radiation and become inflamed.
Moreover, enteritis can also be caused by some medications, including ibuprofen and naproxen sodium illegal drugs, such as cocaine; autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for enteritis?
There are many risk factors for enteritis, such as:
- Recent family illness with intestinal symptoms;
- Recent travel;
- Be exposed to untreated or contaminated water;
- Recent stomach flu among household members.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is enteritis diagnosed?
Your doctor may ask you to take a physical examination, blood tests or stool cultures to diagnose your enteritis and determine the cause of your condition as well.
If your doctor aims to identify what type of infection you get, a stool culture can be ordered, although taking this test does not always bring the result. In such case, a colonoscopy and/or upper endoscopy to look at the small intestine is needed, and maybe take tissue samples is necessary for diagnosing. You can also be required to experience X-rays such as CT scan and MRI so that your doctor can diagnose your enteritis better.
How is enteritis treated?
In case your enteritis is mild, medical treatment is not required because it can get away on its own in some days. If you have symptom of diarrhea, what you need to do is to replenish your fluids afterwards. When you can’t get enough fluids, your doctor may recommend rehydration with electrolyte solutions, which are the combination of primarily water and the essential electrolytes including sodium (salt) and potassium. If you have severe diarrhea, you have to take intravenous fluids, medications, or even hospitalization. In children, the case of having diarrhea and not being able to keep fluids down needs medical care and fluids through a vein (intravenous fluids).
Changes to your radiation therapy may be done if you are diagnosed with radiation enteritis. You may even need to stop radiation entirely, or have a surgery to remove the part of the bowel that has been damaged.
Although antidiarrheal medicine is sometimes used, it can bring you side effect of slowing the germ from leaving the digestive tract. If your diarrhea is developed after taking diuretics, you should stop taking the diuretic along with discussing with your doctor.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage enteritis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with enteritis:
- Before you eat, prepare foods or drinks and use the toilet, you should remember to wash your hands carefully;
- Drinking from unknown sources, such as streams and outdoor wells, without boiling the water first should be abandoned;
- When you eat, particularly handle eggs and poultry, you should use only clean utensils;
- It is suggested that you must cook food completely and properly, store food appropriately in coolers;
- You should also avoid smoking and excessive alcohol use.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
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Enteritis. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001149.htm. Accessed June 17, 2016.