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A to Z: Enteritis

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Enteritis (en-tuh-RY-tus) is inflammation of the small intestine.

More to Know

The small intestine breaks down food so the body can absorb vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. When the small intestine becomes irritated and swollen (inflamed), it’s called enteritis. This sometimes happens along with inflammation of the stomach (gastritis) and large intestine (colitis).

There are many types of enteritis, including bacterial gastroenteritis, such as Campylobacter enteritis, Salmonella enteritis, and Shigella enteritis. Enteritis is usually caused by eating or drinking something infected with a virus or bacteria. Other causes include radiation therapy, certain medications and illegal drugs, and autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

Enteritis can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Treatment usually involves drinking fluids to prevent dehydration. In rare cases, enteritis may be treated in a hospital with intravenous (IV) fluids.

Keep in Mind

Mild cases of enteritis may not need treatment, but always see a doctor about any symptoms that concern you. In most cases, enteritis goes away on its own in a few days. If symptoms go on for longer than that, seek medical care, as some bacterial infections that cause enteritis can spread and lead to serious complications.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.