Gastroenteritis is a condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It is a very common condition that causes diarrhoea and vomiting. It's usually caused by a bacterial or viral tummy bug. It affects people of all ages, but is particularly common in young children. The symptoms may include:
• loss of appetite
• nausea and vomiting
• abdominal pains and cramps
• blood in your stools
HOW IS GASTROENTERITIS DIAGNOSED?
Most people with gastroenteritis recognise this from their typical symptoms and they do not usually need to see a doctor or to seek medical advice. Blood, urine and stool tests are recommended in certain cases of severe conditions.
HOW IS GASTROENTERITIS TREATED?
The treatment for Gastroenteritis is also equally simple. In mild cases of the condition, the doctors might ask the patients to just relax take care of the food and water they consume and leave it as it is. But in more severe conditions, certain medications, usually the OTC types will be advised.
DID YOU KNOW?
Gastroenteritis is a contagious infection that can easily spread when in contact with an infected person. Consumption of contaminated food and water and basic unhygienic can cause spread of this disease.
When diarrhoea is accompanied by vomiting, stomach flu and headaches, it is often due to acute gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is the infection of the lining of the stomach and so it is called stomach flu.
Gastroenteritis is caused due to bacteria or virus. Some common viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis are – rotavirus and notovirus.
Rotavirus is common virus found in the US. It is known to cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Most of the children below the age of 5 years would have experienced a bout of rotavirus gastroenteritis. With many deaths caused due to rotavirus, vaccinations to prevent infection have been developed.
Notovirus is also called as winter virus, as it is common during winter days. Notovirus causes acute gastroenteritis that is highly contagious. It is known to spread quickly. Sometimes passengers on cruise ships get epidemic infections of Notovirus.
Bacteria are also known to cause acute gastroenteritis. Some of the bacteria which cause gastroenteritis are – e.coli, salmonella, shigella and campylobacter. Salmonella and e.coli generally spread through undercooked food. Shigella is a bacterium that is common in day care centres.
Main causes of acute gastroenteritis infection are through food and water. When food is undercooked or past its date of usage then there is a chance of bacterial infection. Water which is not boiled has chance of being contaminated with virus or bacteria. Travellers are required to take extra care as the risk of infection is high for them.
Though prevention is near impossible in case of gastroenteritis, we can take defensive measures to avoid infection. Some of the measures to avoid infection include eating properly cooked food and drinking clean and boiled water. Keeping away from infected people and keeping away from using their objects or utensils can also stop the spreading of infection. Proper cleaning of hands with soap and water after using toilets and after returning home is essential in preventing infections.
The infection can be treated at home with no necessity of hospitalization. Gastroenteritis causes severe dehydration due to vomiting, stomach flu and diarrhoea. To prevent dehydration and cramps it is necessary to drink a lot of fluids. When children are infected mothers and caregivers should check for dry lips or mouth and in babies checking out for dry diapers would help.
To avoid further spread of infection, it is necessary to keep the infected person at home. Even taking the person to doctor can cause the spread of acute gastroenteritis as the virus will be present in small particles of vomit in the breath. Severe infection and lasting of symptoms of diarrhoea and dehydration requires hospitalization.
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