Enteritis is inflammation of the small intestine.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Enteritis is usually caused by eating or drinking substances that are contaminated with bacteria or viruses. The germs settle in the small intestine and cause inflammation and swelling, which may lead to abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration.
Enteritis may also be caused by:
- An autoimmune condition such as Crohn’s disease
- Certain drugs, including ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and cocaine
- Damage from radiation therapy
The inflammation can also involve the stomach (gastritis) and large intestine (colitis).
Risk factors include recent family illness with intestinal symptoms, recent travel, or exposure to untreated or contaminated water.
Types of enteritis include:
- Bacterial gastroenteritis
- Campylobacter enteritis
- E. coli enteritis
- Food poisoning
- Radiation enteritis
- Salmonella enteritis
- Shigella enteritis
- Staph aureus food poisoning
Pictures & Images
Salmonella typhi organism
The causative agent of typhoid fever is the bacterium Salmonella typhi. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Yersinia enterocolitica organism
This picture shows the organism Yersinia enterocolitica. Yersinia organisms cause a wide range of disease but are most often associated with diarrhea or gastrointestinal symptoms. Yersinia infection is appearing with increased frequency in immunocompromised individuals. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Campylobacter jejuni organism
Campylobacter jejuni infection causes cramping, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever within 2 to 5 days after a person has been exposed to the organism. Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common bacterial causes of diarrhea. Most cases of Campylobacter jejuni come from handling or ingesting raw or undercooked poultry meat. Although poultry and other birds are not affected by the bacterium, other animals can be. Therefore it is possible for a person to aquire the infection from contact with infected stool of an ill cat or dog. This is what Campylobacter organisms look like through a microscope. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Clostridium difficile organism
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium commonly found in the intestinal tract but which, under the right circumstances such as after or during antibiotics therapy, can be the cause of enterocolitis. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.
Esophagus and stomach anatomy
Food is swallowed and passes through the esophagus to the stomach, where the majority of digestion takes place.
Enteritis : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Enteritis : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests
Enteritis : Treatment
Review Date : 8/1/2009
Reviewed By : George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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