In most cases, a gastrointestinal infection will go away on its own after a few days and does not require any specific medical treatment. Proper hydration is important, so plenty of fluids should be consumed during recovery. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be used to treat the nausea associated with a gastrointestinal infection, although medications aimed at treating diarrhea are not usually recommended. Depending on the cause of the infection, antibiotics, antiviral medications, or anti-parasitic drugs may be prescribed. Any specific questions or concerns about the best gastrointestinal infection treatment options for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
Maintaining proper hydration is one of the chief concerns when a gastrointestinal infection is present. Drinking plenty of fluids is often enough to prevent dehydration. In addition to water and fruit juices, soup or broth may be recommended. By combining these foods and beverages, both fluids and electrolytes are replaced in the body. If dehydration occurs, the patient may need to receive intravenous fluids in a hospital setting.
Nausea and diarrhea are the most common symptoms associated with a gastrointestinal infection. If the nausea becomes severe and it is difficult to keep fluids down, over-the-counter or prescription anti-nausea medications may be helpful. The use of medications designed to treat diarrhea is usually discouraged, as this would slow the exit of the source of infection.
Antibiotics are not normally prescribed for a bacterial gastrointestinal infection in an otherwise healthy person. These medications have a tendency to increase the severity of symptoms such as diarrhea. Those with compromised immune systems may be given antibiotics, as the benefits would then outweigh the potential risks. Anti-parasitic medications may be prescribed if the infection is found to be caused by a parasite, or anti-viral medications may be prescribed for viral infections.
The best treatment options during a gastrointestinal infection are usually adequate fluid intake and plenty of rest. This is a relatively common affliction and will generally resolve on its own within a week. If symptoms persist or become severe, a doctor should be consulted for further medical evaluation. Medications may be given to help ease the symptoms, or a short stay in the hospital may be indicated if dehydration becomes severe and is not able to be adequately treated at home. It is always best to have the infection diagnosed by a doctor, as some more serious medical conditions may have similar symptoms.