Acute gastroenteritis is a diarrheal disease of rapid onset.
Viruses are one of the common causes of gastroenteritis.
Rotavirus, enteric adenovirus serotypes 40 and 41, astrovirus and calicivirus (eg "Norwalk-like" virus) are the established viral agents causing gastroenteritis.
Rotavirus is the most common pathogen causing diarrhea in patients 3-24 months old.
Patients <3 months old are protected by maternal rotavirus antibodies that are passed transplacentally and possibly by breastfeeding.
Transmission is through fecal-oral route.
Incubation period may vary from 1-10 days depending on the causative agent.

Supportive Therapy

Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS)

  • The formula recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)
    • Concentration of: 75 mEq/L sodium, 75 mmol/L glucose with total osmolarity of 245 mOsm/L, or ½ teaspoon of salt and 6 teaspoons of sugar in 1 L of water
    • Lower osmolarity that is proportionally reduced sodium and glucose concentrations
    • The formulation has been shown to reduce vomiting and the need for intravenous (IV) fluids
  • The WHO-recommended amount to be given based on weight and age are as follows:
Weight Age Amount
(within the first 4 hours)

<5 kg (11 lb) <4 months 200-400 mL
5-7.9 kg (11 lb - 17 lb, 7 oz) 4-11 months 200-400 mL
8-10.9 kg (17 lb, 10 oz - 24 lb) 12-23 months 600-800 mL
11-15.9 kg (24 lb, 4 oz - 35 lb) 2-4 years 800-1200 mL
16-29.9 kg (35 lb, 4 oz - 65 lb, 15 oz)
5-14 years 1200-2200 mL
30 kg (66 lb, 2 oz) or more ≥15 years
2200-4000 mL
  • As effective as IV fluids in rehydrating patients with mild to moderate dehydration
  • Severe vomiting, abdominal ileus and in state of hemodynamic shock are contraindications to ORS

Intravenous (IV) Fluids or Nasogastric (NG) ORS

  • Given for 4-6 hours or until adequate hydration is achieved
  • Recommended in the following patients:
    • Severely dehydrated
    • In whom oral hydration has failed due to severe vomiting
    • Patients with intestinal ileus or intestinal obstruction
    • Patients in shock or altered mental status
  • NG ORS may be given to moderately dehydrated patients who cannot tolerate oral administration of ORS and to children who are too weak and refuse to drink which may cause insufficient hydration if only by oral intake 
  • NG feeding allows continuous ORS administration at a slow and steady amount
  • Rehydrated state should be maintained by continuous replacement of losses

Mild Dehydration

  • Administer 50-100 mL of ORS to children <2 years old, 100-200 mL to children 2-10 years old, or unlimited amount for children >10 years old, after each loose stool, or 20 mL/kg body weight/hour to replace estimated fluid deficit
  • Several trials support the use of NG ORS feeding even in patients with continuous vomiting or with presence of oral ulcers
  • Continue breastfeeding or resume age-appropriate feeding
  • Rapid IV hydration may also be administered

Moderate to Severe Dehydration

  • Start patient on rapid IV rehydration
  • Administer 20 mL/kg body weight of IV lactated Ringer’s solution or normal saline solution (0.9% NaCl) until pulse, perfusion and mental status return to normal, followed by 100 mL/kg body weight of ORS for 4 hours or 5% dextrose ½ normal saline IV at 2x maintenance fluid rates
    • Alternatively, give 100 mL/kg body weight. Then, for infants <1 year give 30 mL/kg/body weight within the 1st hour, followed by 70 mL/kg/body weight within 5 hours. For children >1 year, 30 mL/kg/body weight IV fluid may be given within the 1st 30 minutes, followed by 70 mL/kg/body weight within 2.5 hours
    • Administration of ORS may encourage early resumption of feeding
    • Study shows that giving of ORS may lead to rapid resolution of acidosis compared to IV fluid
Digital Edition
Asia's trusted medical magazine for healthcare professionals. Get your MIMS JPOG - Malaysia digital copy today!
Sign In To Download
Editor's Recommendations
Most Read Articles
Pearl Toh, 21 Nov 2020
Antiviral treatment with tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF) during pregnancy in highly viraemic mothers effectively prevents mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) with no safety concerns, according to two studies presented during the AASLD 2020 Liver Meeting.