Gastrointestinal infections occur when a person consumes bacteria or parasites that are harmful to the gastrointestinal system. A person who has ingested a harmful bacteria or parasite may suffer from common gastrointestinal infection symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Patients also may show signs of secondary gastrointestinal infection symptoms ranging from loss of appetite and fatigue to stomach cramps.
Diarrhea, or loose stool, is typically not something a person should worry about if it is a one-time occurrence. Chronic diarrhea, on the other hand, is at the top of the list of gastrointestinal infection symptoms. A person suffering from a gastrointestinal infection may have watery diarrhea multiple times an hour. Stomach pain may accompany the diarrhea.
A person suffering from continuous diarrhea will typically have to take off from school or work and stay near a restroom until the infection is out of his or her body. If a person notices blood in his or her stool, then a call should be placed to a doctor. Gastrointestinal infection symptoms such as excessive diarrhea also can cause a person to become dangerously dehydrated. People suffering from an infection of this type should be sure to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes.
Many times the diarrhea caused by a gastrointestinal infection will be accompanied by a fever. A person can take some over-the-counter pain relievers to try to bring the fever down. Getting plenty of rest also is vital for people recovering from bowel issues.
Certain types of bacteria, such as salmonella, can cause other gastrointestinal infection symptoms, such as vomiting. People commonly get salmonella from eating undercooked or raw eggs or chicken. People who are sick from salmonella bacteria may throw up violently for several days. Salmonella also can be contagious, so infected people should stay away from others and wash their hands thoroughly. People can prevent future salmonella outbreaks by being sure not to cross-contaminate cutting boards and knives used with raw meats while cooking.
People with gastrointestinal infections of any type may feel extremely tired and experience a loss of appetite. If a person who is suffering from a gastrointestinal issue is not hungry, then he or she should still try to suck on ice chips or munch on plain crackers. A person suffering from a stomach infection should limit himself or herself to low-key activities such as reading, napping and watching TV. Working out or doing other strenuous activities while the body is dehydrated is not recommended.