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Family Physician

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Can persistent stomach cramps, diarrhea and flatulence indicate gastroenteritis?

Answered by
Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3132 Questions

Posted on Sat, 6 Oct 2018 in Digestion and Bowels
Question: Hi have been having relentless intestinal cramps with non bloody diarrhea for 8 hrs. Had nausea yesterday followed by diarrhea but felt better this AM. However later today i started getting painful spasms, lots of painful flatulence. Abdomen is sensitive to touch. I also feel a burning sensation in the upper GI area. 58 yr old male otherwise healthy taking only a statin (crestor) but had been on a PPI for years which i just discontinued. I have had gastroenteritis in the past, but don't remember it being so painful. what could this be and when should i consider ER?
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 31 minutes later
Brief Answer:

May indicate viral gastroenteritis

Detailed Answer:


I'm sorry you are having these miserable symptoms.

You may have a viral gastroenteritis, but you may also be having rebound/discontinuation symptoms from stopping the PPI.

They are known to cause rebound symptoms of more of the very thing people start taking them for.

For this burning sensation, you can either go back on the PPI, or use an H2 blocker such as Ranitidine twice a day.

H2 blockers do not have the same risk of discontinuation symptoms.

But there is also the diarrhea, and I am concerned that if you have been having diarrhea for 8 hours with no end in site, then you can become dehydrated and have electrolyte imbalance (from loss of potassium).

So I think it would be a good idea to go in to the ER.

There they can assess your electrolytes, and replace them along with fluids via IV.

They can also give you an antispasmodic/antidiarrheal medication IV or IM.

Giving bowel rest (i.e. nothing by mouth) can shut down the problem.

So I think it would be reasonable to go in to the ER now.

In terms of how much this costs, I don't know.

It seems there are different plans. I recommend asking the customer service - I think it is something like $25.

I am paid $9.72 so I doubt that the overall fee is high.

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 8 minutes later
Can gastro enteritis come with so much pain? Lots of gurgling too. Cannot lie on my side . Only position is flat on my back. If this was gastro a)how long could these spasms last and b) can one have gastro without the nausea/vomitting?
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 10 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Spasms from gastrointestinal infections may last days.

Detailed Answer:


Regarding how long the spasms may last, it can range from a day to several days for most viral gastrointestinal infections.

Given how hard your cramps are, it could also be food poisoning from eating food that is contaminated with bacteria.

But usually with that there are symptoms of feeling light headed and chills.

But not always. Food poisoning typically comes on abruptly and resolves in a matter of hours, depending on the bacteria involved.

It can also take a few days though.

Viral gastroenteritis can be predominantly vomiting or diarrhea or both. Some people get one or the other.

So it is possible it is a viral gastro.

In the ER, the doctor can do an exam which may help provide answers.

Appendicitis can cause diarrhea sometimes, and a lot of pain, but the pain is usually worse with walking or jarring movements.

If your pain is severe and the diarrhea is continuing - best to go in to be seen.

Hope I have answered your query.

Take care

Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh, General & Family Physician
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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