What Causes Stomach Infection?

Gastroenteritis or stomach flu

Stomach infections, also known as gastroenteritis or stomach flu, are caused by various pathogens that infect the gastrointestinal tract. These infections can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and nausea. The common pathogens responsible for stomach infections include:

  • Viruses: Viruses are a common cause of gastroenteritis. Some of the main viruses that cause stomach infections include:
    • Norovirus: Highly contagious and a leading cause of foodborne illnesses and outbreaks, often transmitted through contaminated food, water, or surfaces.
    • Rotavirus: Mainly affects young children and can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration. Vaccines are available to prevent rotavirus infection.
    • Adenovirus: Can cause gastroenteritis as well as respiratory and other infections.
    • Astrovirus: Can cause gastroenteritis in people of all ages.
  • Bacteria: Several types of bacteria can cause stomach infections through consumption of contaminated food or water, or through person-to-person contact:
    • Salmonella: Found in undercooked poultry, eggs, and other food products.
    • Campylobacter: Often associated with undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk, and contaminated water.
    • Escherichia coli (E. coli): Certain strains of E. coli can cause severe gastroenteritis, especially in young children and the elderly.
    • Shigella: Transmitted through contaminated food, water, or person-to-person contact.
    • Vibrio cholerae: Causes cholera, a severe diarrheal disease often associated with inadequate sanitation and contaminated water.
  • Parasites: Parasites can also cause stomach infections, often through consumption of contaminated food or water:
    • Giardia: Commonly found in untreated water sources.
    • Cryptosporidium: Can be transmitted through water, food, or contact with infected individuals.
    • Entamoeba histolytica: Causes amoebic dysentery and can be transmitted through contaminated water and food.
  • Food Poisoning: Consuming contaminated or improperly handled food can lead to stomach infections caused by various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
  • Poor Hygiene: Inadequate handwashing, especially after using the restroom, can lead to the spread of pathogens and stomach infections.
  • Traveler’s Diarrhea: Consuming contaminated food or water while traveling to areas with poor sanitation can lead to stomach infections.
  • Close Contact: Stomach infections can spread easily in settings where people are in close contact, such as households, schools, and healthcare facilities.

Preventing stomach infections involves practicing good hygiene, properly preparing and cooking food, ensuring safe water sources, and receiving vaccinations when available. If you experience severe symptoms, persistent diarrhea, signs of dehydration, or other concerning symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention.