Gastroenteritis – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments that we should not ignore. In addition, Gastroenteritis is irritation of the digestive track caused by a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection. Symptoms include diarrhea , vomiting and abdominal pain. Treatment primarily involves relieving symptoms and replacing fluids.
Gastroenteritis is also known as a belly bug, stomach flu, intestinal flu, food poisoning and traveler ‘s diarrhea . It is a common condition, mainly because the microbes that can cause gastroenteritis are easily spread through contaminated food or water, and through person-to-person contact.
Causes of Gastroenteritis: The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a viral or bacterial infection, and less commonly a parasitic infection. The most common causes ofviral gastroenteritis are norovirus and rotavirus. Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella and Campylobacter are the most common causes ofbacterial gastroenteritis .
Parasitic gastroenteritis is usually caused by Giardia. Viral gastroenteritis is the most frequent cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks , which occur when groups of people are affected at the same time and place. People most at risk of gastroenteritis are:
- Babies and young children, who have an immature immune system
- The elderly, who have less efficient immune systems, and especially those who live in nursing homes
- Children in daycare, school children and students living in dormitories
- Anyone with a weakened immune system, such as people with HIV/ AIDS or receiving chemotherapy
Signs and Symptoms of Gastroenteritis: The main symptom of Gastroenteritis is diarrhea , which is when your bowel movements (stool or stool) become watery and you need to go to the bathroom frequently and urgently. Although diarrhea is the main symptom of gastroenteritis , there are many other causes of diarrhea . Additional symptoms and signs of gastroenteritis may include:
- nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Mild fever and chills
- loss of appetite
- Headache and muscle pain
- Tiredness and general body weakness
- Incontinence (loss of control over bowel movements)
- Poor feeding in infants
Depending on the cause, symptoms can appear within one to three days after infection and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms usually last a day or two, but can occasionally persist for up to ten days.
You should see your doctor if your symptoms last longer than about five days and/or increase in severity, your symptoms go away but come back, your stools become bloody or pussy, you have constant abdominal pain, or if you develop dehydration. Dehydration can arise from excessive loss of fluid from the body, which can occur quickly with Gastroenteritis . Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:
- extreme thirst
- Has not urinated in the last eight hours or has passed only a small volume of urine
- Dark-colored, odorous urine
- Dry lips and mouth and lack of tears
- Cold hands and feet
- Bites or sunken eyes
- Dizziness, lethargy, flexibility
- In babies, dry diapers (for more than 4-6 hours) and/or a submerged water source (the soft spot on top of a baby’s head)
- Skin that “fits” when tightened.
Signs of dehydration in anyone, especially children and toddlers, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems, are reasons to see a doctor right away.
Diagnosis of Gastroenteritis: Gastroenteritis is usually diagnosed by the symptoms it produces, mainly diarrhea . However, if symptoms are severe or persistent, your doctor may take a stool (stool) sample to identify the cause of gastroenteritis .
Stool samples can be taken during outbreaks of gastroenteritis , such as those that occur on cruise ships and in hospitals and nursing homes, to identify the virus or bacteria that caused the outbreak. Also, identifying patients with similar histories of food or drink they have recently consumed often helps determine the source of the outbreak.
Gastroenteritis Treatments: Most people with gastroenteritis recover quickly (within several days) without the need for medical treatment as long as they remain adequately hydrated. To help keep you comfortable and prevent dehydration as you recover, try the following:
- Stop eating solid foods to let your stomach settle
- Avoid dairy, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine
- Avoid sugary, fatty or highly spiced foods
- Drink plenty of fluids each day, with small, frequent ice creams, including thin, thin broths and soups, dilute non-caffeinated sports drinks (e.g. Powerade or Gatorade) and rehydration formulas (e.g. Gastrolyte) that are available without
- Prescription from a pharmacy
- Ease back into eating slowly with simple, easy-to-digest foods such as crackers, toast, bananas, rice, and potatoes
- Make sure you get plenty of rest
- Avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and diclofenac for pain relief as they can make your stomach more upset
- Acetaminophen (eg Panadol) can be taken for fever and abdominal pain but should be used with caution
For infants with gastroenteritis , let the baby’s stomach rest for 15 to 20 minutes after vomiting or diarrhea , then offer small amounts of fluid. Let the baby be breastfed. If you are giving a bottle, offer a small amount of an oral rehydration solution or regular formula.
Anti-diarrheal medications such as Imodium can be taken to lessen diarrhea . In most cases, however, it is best for the body to cleanse itself of the viruses or bacteria that cause gastroenteritis . The use of antibiotics is also generally avoided because they are not effective against viruses and their overuse contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
Prevention of Gastroenteritis: The following actions can be taken to prevent the spread of gastroenteritis :
- Frequent and thorough hand washing, especially before eating or preparing food, and after going to the bathroom or coming into contact with an infected person
- Avoid direct contact with infected individuals if possible
- Stay away from work and keep children away from daycare or school until symptoms are gone
- Washing clothes, bedding, and toys from an infected person
- Cleaning and disinfecting kitchen surfaces, especially after working with raw meat or chicken, or eggs
- Avoid eating undercooked foods, especially meat, chicken and fish
- Avoid drinking untreated water
- Avoid eating raw meat, fish and shellfish unless you are sure they are freshly prepared and from a reputable source.
- Thoroughly wash all fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables
- Having your child or child vaccinated with a rotavirus vaccine, which can prevent gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus
- Drink only bottled or boiled water and avoid ice cubes when traveling, especially in developing countries.