Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis, or stomach flu as it is sometimes referred to, is a condition where the gastrointestinal tract of a person is inflamed. The symptoms that are typically associated with this infection are cramps, diarrhea and nausea with some experiencing vomiting as well.

Although gastroenteritis isn’t a disease like others believe, it is sometimes a symptom of some diseases. This often leads to confusion which is best avoided if the health practitioner is more specific in their diagnosis.

Gastroenteritis Symptoms

For those who are not familiar with gastroenteritis and what are the symptoms, here is the list of gastroenteritis symptoms that you should watch out for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Keep in mind, however, that not all patients suffer from these symptoms. There are some who only show mild symptoms while others are more severe. These symptoms usually disappear within 2 to 5 days. For those who are suffering from dehydration, this falls under the case of severe gastroenteritis.

Gastroenteritis can be contagious provided that the cause of the infection is parasitic or viral. On the other hand, it won’t be contagious if the source of the infection are toxins or food allergies.

Types of Gastroenteritis

There are different types of gastroenteritis that you should be aware of. They are basically categorized according to the cause of the infection.

  • Viral Gastroenteritis – This is probably the most common type of gastroenteritis nowadays. It afflicts people of all ages from infants to children to adults. Diarrhea is the number one cause of death where severe dehydration also affects the patient due to watery diarrhea. Unless the symptoms do not go away within 2 to 5 days, the gastroenteritis may just be a precursor to a more serious problem.
  • Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis – This type is quite rare. It also affects both children as well as adults. This type of gastroenteritis shows signs like pain in the abdomen, lack of known cause for eonsinophilia, inclusion of other organs in the body aside from the gastrointestinal tract. Those who might be inflicted with this kind of infection are those who have a history of food allergies.

Treatment

Patients who are suffering from gastroenteritis don’t really require medication except perhaps being properly hydrated. Home care usually requires the patient to drink more fluids to replace those that are expelled from the body in the form of diarrhea. Clear fluid is better than any liquid beverage. Among those that can be consumed are Gatorade, Pedialyte, and Powerade among others. In case the patient becomes dehydrated, a health care practitioner should be consulted.

Doctors may prescribe Lomotil or Imodium to clear up diarrhea. The BRAT diet or banana, rice, apples and toast is recommended once the patient’s symptoms have abated. This is usually taken at least two days before a regular meal is introduced.

Those who are suffering from more than the usual symptoms may need to be diagnosed by their physician to determine what other infections or problems caused their gastroenteritis. On the other hand, some doctors believe that the symptoms of gastroenteritis will clear up on their own, hence there is no need for any medications except hydrating one’s self.

Gastroenteritis Treatment may also vary depending on the patient. Gastroenteritis in children usually clears within five days provided that they are constantly hydrated. Pedialyte is the recommended drink for kids that will help them avoid dehydration. Children who are struck with this infection should be well taken care of since they are more prone to being dehydrated to their diarrhea. It is best that they are well nourished and given plenty of liquids.

Preventing

Although there are no sure way of preventing acute gastroenteritis from occuring, there are steps that can help reduce the risk of suffering from this infection.

  • Wash hands before eating. This is also advisable if you are in contact with someone who is infected.
  • Avoid eating food that is undercooked or raw. This kind of food can increase your exposure to the virus.
  • Make sure that the ingredients you will be using for your dish will be washed thoroughly.
  • Clothes of the infected person should be washed immediately to reduce the chances of the virus spreading.
  • Avoid drinking milk that is unpasteurized and untreated.

These precautionary measures can help you avoid getting infected and suffering from gastroenteritis. Although this infection is not harmful in most cases, protecting yourself at all times is better than having to be inconvenienced.

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