Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines that often causes diarrhea and vomiting. It can be caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites, and it may occur with certain medications or toxins found in seafood, or from eating too many acidic foods. It is often called "stomach flu," but it is not caused by influenza. Gastroenteritis that is caused by a virus is the second most common illness in the United States. The main types of viruses that cause gastroenteritis are rotavirus and norovirus. Bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella also can trigger gastroenteritis.

The illness spreads through contaminated food or water or contact with an infected person. Gastroenteritis also can cause abdominal pain, headache and chills. The condition may improve in a few days with no treatment, but dehydration is common if not enough fluids are consumed. Those with gastroenteritis should stop eating for a few hours, drink plenty of liquids, such as a sports drink or water, ease back into eating with bland foods such as crackers and toast, and get plenty of rest.


UAB Medicine is known worldwide as a leading center for digestive and liver disorders. Our gastroenterology and gastrointestinal (GI) surgery program is consistently recognized for excellence by U.S. News & World Report. We see more than 20,000 patients and perform more than 12,000 outpatient procedures each year.

UAB has a notable history in this medical specialty. Basil Hirschowitz, MD – who founded our program more than 50 years ago – was the inventor of the endoscope, a tubular, flexible instrument equipped with a tiny camera that is used to look deep inside the body. His invention revolutionized gastroenterology and GI surgery care. Our interventional endoscopy group, which includes endoscopic ultrasound technology, is one of the busiest in the country and has grown to become one of the most respected programs of its kind.

UAB continues to lead the advancement of gastroenterology with many active research trials that offer the latest in drug therapy and treatment for digestive disorders. Our physicians and scientists are searching for causes and cures for many illnesses through basic research, including studies of the bacteria that inhabit our intestines and affect our health.

UAB Medicine operates the Digestive Health Center, which combines gastroenterology care, GI surgery, and a broad range of advanced diagnostic and supportive services in a single, convenient location for our patients. The center features specialists in gastroenterology and hepatology, colorectal surgery, transplant surgery, and nutrition, all of whom work together to form a diverse team of digestive health experts. The Digestive Health Center provides a fully integrated model of care that optimizes the patient experience and offers the absolute latest in testing, technology, and treatment.





UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for Gastroenteritis. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials