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?
There is no specific treatment for viral Gastroenteritis. In most cases, self-care is suggested to reduce the discomfort of the symptoms. When the symptoms are severe, it is advised to avoid solid food. Sucking ice chips and taking small sips of water will help in dealing with the pain and heartburn. Caffeine, alcohol, dairy products and nicotine should all be avoided along with taking lots of rest.
DID YOU KNOW?
Maintaining good hygiene, washing foods before eating and avoiding drinking outside water are some of the best ways to prevent this problem in the first place.
Diarrhoea accompanied by vomiting is the main symptom of acute gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is an infection of the stomach lining and often confused with food poisoning, so it is also called stomach flu. Acute gastroenteritis causes severe diarrhoea and the best way to treat the disease is by giving a lot of fluids to the patient to prevent dehydration. Severe dehydration can cause cramps in the body which should be avoided, as it is a serious condition. When children are infected checking for dry mouth or diapers can help identify dehydration. Normally the patients can be treated at home. Only severe cases require hospitalization.
Prevention of spread of infection is possible by keeping the patient in isolation. Close contact with the patient can cause spread of the disease as the bacteria or virus can spread through vomit present in the nostrils or mouth. Avoiding use of things and utensils used by the patient should be best avoided.
There are two types of virus that cause acute gastroenteritis, they are notovirus and rotavirus. Notovirus is very common during winter days. The virus causes epidemic on ships and is highly contagious. Rotavirus is also similar to notovirus. Children below the age of five generally are affected by rotavirus and are a common illness among small children in USA. Vaccinations are given to children to prevent infection.
Another cause of gastroenteritis is bacteria. Some of the bacteria that cause gastroenteritis are – campylobacter, shigella, e.coli and salmonella. Bacterium Shigella is common in the day care centres and prevention of spread of this virus should be through proper hygiene.
Spread of gastroenteritis is through contaminated food and water. When food is undercooked or water is not properly boiled for consumption, there are high chances of infection by this disease. Infection risk is high among travellers and often gastroenteritis is referred to as traveller’s sickness.
Visiting a general practitioner in severe cases of gastroenteritis can enable the patient to get some relief to the problem. Normally the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea like stomach flu subside within 48 hours and if it persists beyond 48 hours then medical intervention is required. It is better to keep the patient isolated even after 48 hours as the risk of infection is high even after the symptoms subside.
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