Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and it's caused by a virus.
Better known as the stomach flu, this nasty bug is the leading cause of severe diarrhea and vomiting in both adults and children, making dehydration a real cause for concern - especially among children.
It's important to note that antibiotics do not work for viruses like the stomach flu and antidiarrheal medications are generally not given because they may prolong the infectious process.
The infection usually goes away on its own, but you should call your doctors if diarrhea lasts for more than several days or if you think you or your child are becoming dehydrated.
Stomach flu, like most infectious organisms, is transmitted by unwashed hands. The best way to prevent it is to handle food properly and wash hands thoroughly and often - especially after using the restroom.