Gastroenteritis or stomach flu is a condition that is predominantly characterized by diarrhoea and vomiting. The condition causes your stomach and intestines to be irritated and inflamed. This is either viral or bacterial infection. The symptoms are stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea and headache along with diarrhoea and vomiting.
HOW IS GASTROENTERITIS DIAGNOSED?
Gastroenteritis is usually diagnosed clinically based on the person’s signs and symptoms. Stool culture tests may be ordered in case blood is found in stools. Electrolyte levels and kidney function also need to be tested
HOW IS GASTROENTERITIS TREATED?
Treatment for the gastroenteritis includes bed rest and eating foods that help in binding the stomach, especially bread, rice, applesauce, etc. Alongside antibiotics may be given to control the infection and painkillers to help in reducing the inflammation and swelling.
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.
Acute gastroenteritis is the infection of the lining of the stomach. People who get gastroenteritis develop symptoms of watery stools or diarrhoea, vomiting, headaches and dizziness. Gastroenteritis is a viral or bacterial infection that can be caused due to contaminated food or contracting the infection from an infected person. Travellers who visit foreign countries may experience traveller’s diarrhoea which is similar to gastroenteritis. Acute gastroenteritis is often confused with food poisoning.
This disease is known to cause dehydration in both adults and children alike. To prevent severe cases of dehydration, persons with acute gastroenteritis are required to take fluids continuously to prevent dehydration. When infants are infected mothers should check for symptoms of dry lips, dry mouth or dry diapers. Severe dehydration is dangerous as it leads to cramps.
The infection lasts for 48 hours and in some people it may last longer. Infection can spread to other people even after the symptoms has subsided. So children who have gastroenteritis should not be sent to school even after the symptoms have subsided as there is risk of infecting other children.
It is a known fact that virus or bacteria cause gastroenteritis. Some of the virus which causes gastroenteritis is – notovirus and rotavirus. Some bacteria which cause gastroenteritis are salmonella, campylobacter, shigella and e-coli.
Notovirus is the most common virus that causes acute gastroenteritis. A highly contagious virus, it can spread through contaminated food and water, contact with infected person or objects like food, drinks or utensils. Notovirus is also called winter virus as it strikes during winter. It can cause epidemic to passengers of cruise ships.
Rotavirus is another virus that causes gastroenteritis. It is more common in United States of America and is known to cause severe diarrhoea in children below the age of 5 years.
Shigella bacteria which causes gastroenteritis is common in nurseries and day care centres. This bacterium spreads due to unhygienic conditions and maintenance of proper hygiene is most required in these centres to prevent contamination.
Averting gastroenteritis is not fully possible, a few steps can be taken to prevent infection. Food that we eat should be properly refrigerated and heated thoroughly before eating. Avoiding close contact with infected person and not using their objects or things can prevent contamination. Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet and after coming home. While travelling it is essential to keep a tab on the water we drink. It is best to drink hot water to prevent infections.
Normally gastroenteritis can be treated at home. There is no need for contacting a medical practitioner. All that the infection requires is lot of fluids and hygienic conditions. People visiting the doctors can contaminate other persons as the virus may spread through the mouth. Severe cases of gastroenteritis may require hospitalization and thorough checking by the doctor.
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