Gastroenteritis, which is commonly called stomach flu, refers to the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Viruses and bacteria are often the causal organisms for this condition. The inflammation occurs when bacteria or viruses enter and multiply within the gastrointestinal tract. This condition can give rise to a host of symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, or loss of appetite. One of the common effect of stomach flu is dehydration, which results from loss of fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea. Besides these characteristic symptoms, affected individuals may sometimes complain of back pain. In the following sections, we will look into the causes of this condition, along with the reasons behind the development of back pain in individuals affected by stomach flu.

Contributing Factors
While diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort are the common symptoms, one may also experience flu-like symptoms such as malaise, headaches, body aches, or fever. The common causes of this condition include:

Rotaviruses, adenoviruses, and noroviruses are some of the viruses that are responsible for causing this gastrointestinal problem. More often than not, a viral infection is the contributing factor for this condition. However, bacteria, fungi, or other parasites could also be responsible for causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The incubation period usually depends on the causal organism.

Another contributing factor could be the consumption of contaminated food or water. Ingesting food that has not been prepared in a hygienic manner is one of the common causes of bacterial gastroenteritis. Bacteria that are commonly responsible for causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract include Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, and Salmonella.

Presence of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, or arsenic in water could also cause accumulation of toxins in the digestive tract, which could give rise to inflammation.

Prolonged use of antibiotics could also disturb the balance of friendly bacteria and other microbes in the digestive tract, which in turn could put one at an increased risk of developing infections. Those who have a weakened immune system are also at a greater risk of developing such infections.

Can Gastroenteritis Cause Back Pain?

As mentioned earlier, abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, bloating, and vomiting are some of the common symptoms of stomach flu. Since one may lose bodily fluids due to diarrhea or vomiting, one may even become dehydrated. Severe dehydration could even make one feel lightheaded or weak. At times, people experience back pain during gastroenteritis. Basically, back pain that one may experience at this time is mainly a referred pain. Referred pain is a term used for describing pain which is felt at a location that is different from the source of the painful stimulus. So, the pain that is arising from the gastrointestinal tract could radiate to other parts of the body.

At times, back pain could be due to the excessive buildup of gas. When there is excessive production of gas, and this intestinal gas cannot be expelled, it may exert pressure and cause pain in the abdominal region. While one is most likely to experience tightness or a knotted feeling in the stomach, pain may get referred to the back region. If pain often occurs due to excess gas, it could also be indicative of a weak digestive system. Such individuals must make lifestyle changes or follow certain remedies to prevent excessive buildup of gas.

Treatment Options

The time taken to recover from stomach flu would vary, depending on the extent of inflammation. Gastroenteritis usually resolves within a couple of weeks. The affected individual can follow the home remedies given below:

Since vomiting and diarrhea cause fluid loss and may leave one feeling very weak, there's a need to make up for the loss of fluids. Drinking an oral rehydration solution can help prevent severe dehydration.

One can also consume probiotic foods to restore microbial balance in the gastrointestinal tract.

Doctors often ask the patient to refrain from eating fried or fatty foods until the digestive system recovers. So, one must start with foods that can be digested easily.

Uncooked meat can make one susceptible to this condition, which is why there's a great need to ensure that food is cooked well. One must also refrain from consuming foods that are known for causing gas.

If the diagnostic tests reveal bacteria to be the causal organism, doctors may also prescribe antibiotics for preventing the bacteria from growing further.

On a concluding note, back pain that is experience during gastroenteritis could be a referred pain. Also, excessive buildup of gas could be the link between gastroenteritis and back pain. While doctors may prescribe drugs for treating infection and inflammation, there's a great need to comply to the dietary guidelines. Gastroenteritis is mainly a food-borne ailment, and following a healthy diet may help in preventing a recurrence of gastroenteritis in future.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.