Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, which results from a virus infection, include stomach pain, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, according to MedlinePlus. Patients with an infection may also experience stiff joints, muscle pain, fever, chills or weight loss.
The stomach and intestines become swollen or inflamed in people with viral gastroenteritis, explains MedlinePlus. Individuals who eat contaminated food or beverages are prone to suffer gastroenteritis. The germs typically enter the body through utensils or plates, and they spread from one person to another through close contact.
Viral gastroenteritis is the most common cause of intense diarrhea in children and adults, notes MedlinePlus. Small children, older people and individuals with a suppressed immune system are more vulnerable to a stomach infection. Symptoms generally manifest within four to 48 hours after the virus attacks the stomach and intestines.
To diagnose the condition, physicians check for signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth, low blood pressure, lack of tears, minimal urine production or lethargy, says MedlinePlus. Treatment focuses on preventing dehydration. Doctors often advise patients with viral gastroenteritis to drink lots of water, because diarrhea causes the body to lose fluids and electrolytes. It helps to drink 2 to 4 ounces of fluids every 30 minutes to one hour to avoid vomiting. Consuming small amounts of foods, such as vegetables, plain yogurt and cereals, also helps.