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Gastroenteritis
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Find Relief From Frequent Gastroenteritis Symptoms

Gastroenteritis is a healthcare condition when the lining of your intestines and stomach is inflamed and irritated. If you have severe diarrhea or vomiting, then you are certainly suffering from stomach flu due to gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is caused either by viral, bacterial or parasite infections.

Gastroenteritis Symptoms

The prime stomach flu symptoms are watery stool/diarrhea and vomiting. Some other symptoms are:

  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Headache

 

Due to diarrhea and vomiting, you may feel dehydrated. Children and older adults are more prone to getting dehydrated. Signs of dehydration could be:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry Skin
  • Feeling thirsty frequently
  • Lightheadedness

 

Consult your doctor if you are experiencing the above symptoms

Children and Stomach Flu

Stomach flu/gastroenteritis is common among children and they get dehydrated due to it.  Always change their diapers on time so that germs can’t spread through the feces.

Gastroenteritis

If your child is suffering from gastroenteritis, don’t send him/her to daycare or schools until all symptoms are dissolved. Before giving any medicine to your child, consult with a doctor. Medications that usually suppress diarrhea and vomiting are not recommended for children younger than 5.

To avert the spread of rotavirus (the prime cause of stomach flu for children), two vaccines should be given to infants.

The Common Gastroenteritis Causes

  • Close contact who has already been infected with the disease
  • Consumption of contaminated food or water
  • Grimy hands after using a washroom or changing a diaper

 

The prime cause of gastroenteritis is a virus. Two common viruses are rotavirus and norovirus.

Rotavirus is the most common virus that is responsible for diarrhea in infants and young children. Norovirus is another popular virus that causes severe gastroenteritis and foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S.

Bacteria including E. coli and salmonella (though not common) may cause stomach flu. Salmonella and campylobacter bacteria are the pivotal bacteria that are responsible for gastroenteritis in the USA.  These viruses get spread by undercooked poultry, eggs, or poultry juices. Pet reptiles or live poultry may also spread Salmonella.

Another popular bacterium in daycare centers is shigella. This is highly contagious and spread from person to person. Contaminated food and drinking water are the prime sources of bacteria.

You may get gastroenteritis due to parasites, but it’s not common. You may touch organisms like giardia and cryptosporidium in contaminated swimming pools or by consuming contaminated water.

You may get gastroenteritis in some uncommon ways.

  • Drinking water that contains heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, or mercury)
  • Consuming too many acidic foods, like citrus fruit and tomatoes
  • Seafood that contains certain toxins
  • Medications such as antibiotics, antacids, laxatives, and chemotherapy drugs

 

Gastroenteritis Treatment

Prevent dehydration:

  • A rehydration solution should be given to your child. Consult a doctor for age-appropriate dosing specifics.
  • Give adequate clear fluid to an adult as much as possible
  • The infected person must consume fluid slowly but frequently in smaller amounts. Drinking too much fluid at a time can make vomiting worse

 

When the Symptoms Start to Suppress

  • Can resume a normal diet
  • Start initially with easy-to-digest food items like crackers, bananas, toast, rice, and chicken.
  • Stay away from dairy, caffeine, and alcohol until you are not recovered completely

 

Who Gets Stomach Flu or Gastroenteritis?

This can affect anyone but if you stay in a place where lots of people live or share dining spaces, then you may get this disease easily.

  • Children in daycare or at schools
  • Nursing homes/Hospitals
  • Students who are staying in dormitories
  • Military personnel
  • Prisons
  • Psychiatric wards
  • Cruise-ship passengers
  • People who are traveling to developing countries
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system

 

How is Stomach Flu Diagnosed?

By checking your symptoms, a healthcare professional will diagnose gastroenteritis or stomach flu. To rule out other diseases, your doctor may order some tests. These tests could be:

Stool Samples

this test checks the presence of bacteria, viruses or parasites in your stool

Sigmoidoscopy

By inserting a thin and flexible tube with a small tiny camera from the anus into the lower large intestine, your doctor checks for some signs of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). This test takes 15 minutes to complete, but it doesn’t require sedation.

When to consult a doctor?

  • If your child (older than 2 years) vomits for more than 2 days along with fever or severe diarrhea
  • If a child under age 2 has vomiting or diarrhea for more than 12 hours
  • If vomiting or diarrhea turns bloody or tarry
  • If the person is already suffering from kidney, liver, or heart disease
  • If the person experiences sudden and uncontrollable abdominal pain
  • If dehydration is there
  • Symptoms don’t dissolve after a week

 

Dehydration with these symptoms must be treated in an emergency room without any delay

  • Very little to no urination
  • Frequent thirst
  • Lack of tears
  • Dry mouth
  • Dipped eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Abrupt breathing and heartbeat
  • Lack of alertness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Trouble while breathing

 

How to Prevent Gastroenteritis or Stomach Flu

  • Good handwashing practice is the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Wash your hands frequently with soap water for at least 30 secs to avoid the spread of gastroenteritis.
  • Use a disinfectant (cleaner that kills germs) to clean your kitchen surfaces especially if you need to work with raw meat or eggs.
  • Keep separately raw meat, eggs and poultry from other food items
  • Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, eggs and shellfish
  • Always consume pasteurized dairy products and apple juice. The pasteurization process kills germs and bacteria
  • Before you eat fruits and vegetables, wash them properly
  • Always use bottled water while traveling to developing countries. Water can easily get contaminated with germs
  • Don’t cook or prepare foods for others when you are sick or infected. You can resume your work after two to three days when the symptoms are gone

 

The Bottom Line

Almost everyone gets gastroenteritis in their lives at some point in time. Though it is unpleasant, it goes away within a week. Take rest and give time for recovery before resuming your work.

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