Treatments for viral gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, include rest, staying well hydrated and eating small meals to give the stomach time to recover, states Healthline. Doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial gastroenteritis.
Antibiotics have no effect on viral gastroenteritis, according to Healthline. Common viruses associated with gastroenteritis include norovirus and rotavirus. These viruses are spread through contact with infected food or water and through contact with an infected person. Young children and the elderly are most susceptible to contracting these viruses. Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include diarrhea that is sometimes severe, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and loss of appetite.
Causes of bacterial gastroenteritis include E. coli, campylobacter, staphylococcus and salmonella, and infections spread through contact with contaminated food and water. Symptoms of a bacterial infection include severe abdominal pain or cramping, vomiting and diarrhea, notes Healthline. Most healthy adults recover within a week, but patients needing IV hydration and medications may require hospitalization.
For suspected cases of gastroenteritis in children, medical attention should be sought if the develops a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, has bloody diarrhea or appears dehydrated, states Mayo Clinic. Adults should seek medical attention if they vomit for more than two days or experience bloody stool.