A Simple Guide To Gastroenteritis

A Simple Guide To Gastroenteritis

What is​ Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is​ an​ inflammation of​ the lining of​ the intestines caused by a​ virus, bacteria or​ parasites resulting in​ leakage of​ fluid from the cell into the intestine(diarrhea),abdominal pain and vomiting.

What are the causes of​ Gastroenteritis?

Viral Gastroenteritis:

The most common cause of​ Gastroenteritis is​ Viral.

Rota virus is​ the leading cause among children 3 to​ 15 months old and the most common cause of​ diarrhea in​ children under the age of​ 5 years.

Adenovirus occurs mainly in​ children under the age of​ 2 years.

Caliciviruses especially the norovirus cause infection in​ people of​ all ages.

Astrovirus also infects primarily infants, young children, and the elderly.

Bacterial Gastroenteritis:
The most common cause is​ the E. coli bacteria, usually mild with diarrhea, abdominal pain and occasional vomiting. it​ rarely cause fever.

Salmonella, Shigella ,Vibrio cholerae, are more serious bacterial infection causing diarrhea and high fever.

Parasitic Gastroenteritis:

Most common is​ amoebic dysentery,common in​ India and Africa.
Other parasitic infection are giardiasis and threadworms.

What are symptoms of​ Gastroenteritis?

The main symptoms of​ gastroenteritis are

1. watery diarrhea
2. abdominal pain
3. vomiting
4. headache
5. fever.
6. loss of​ appetite and energy

Symptoms usually appear within 4 to​ 48 hours after exposure to​ the germ and last for 1 to​ 2 days, though symptoms can last as​ long as​ 10 days.

How is​ Gastroenteritis transmitted?

Gastroenteritis can be highly contagious. The germs are commonly transmitted by people with unwashed hands.

People can get the germs through close contact with infected individuals by sharing their food, drink, or​ eating utensils, or​ by eating food or​ drinking beverages that are contaminated with the germs.

Noroviruses in​ particular, are typically spread to​ other people by contact with stool or​ vomit of​ infected people and through contaminated water or​ food especially oysters, prawns, crabs, lobsters, cockleshells from contaminated breeding waters.

How is​ the diagnosis of​ Gastroenteritis made?

Doctors generally diagnose gastroenteritis based on the symptoms and a​ physical examination. Your doctor may ask for a​ stool sample to​ test for rotavirus or​ to​ rule out bacteria or​ parasites as​ the cause of​ your symptoms.

How is​ Gastroenteritis treated?

Most cases of​ viral gastroenteritis resolve without specific treatment.
Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections.

The primary goal of​ treatment is​ to​ reduce the symptoms which may include an​ antispasmodic drug to​ stop abdominal cramps, medicine to​ harden the stools such as​ kaolin and slow down the intestinal movement (lomotil or​ loperamide).

Prompt treatment may be needed to​ prevent dehydration which is​ the loss of​ fluids from the body. Important salts or​ minerals, known as​ electrolytes, can also be lost with the fluids. Dehydration can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, excessive urination, excessive sweating, or​ by not drinking enough fluids because of​ nausea, difficulty swallowing, or​ loss of​ appetite.

The symptoms of​ dehydration are
excessive thirst
dry mouth
little or​ no urine or​ dark yellow urine
sunken eyes
severe weakness or​ lethargy
dizziness or​ lightheadedness

Mild dehydration can be treated by drinking liquids.
Severe dehydration may require intravenous fluids and hospitalization.
Untreated severe dehydration can be life threatening especially in​ babies, young children and the elderly.

The following steps may help relieve the symptoms of​ gastroenteritis.

1. Allow your gastrointestinal tract to​ settle by not eating for a​ few hours.
2. Sip small amounts of​ clear liquids or​ suck on ice chips if​ vomiting is​ still a​ problem.
3. Give infants and children oral rehydration solutions to​ replace fluids and lost electrolytes.
4. Gradually reintroduce food, starting with bland, easy-to-digest food, like porridge or​ soups.
5. Avoid dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol until recovery is​ complete.
6. Get plenty of​ rest.

How is​ Gastroenteritis prevented?

You can avoid infection by:

1.washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after using the bathroom or​ changing diapers
2.washing your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds before eating
3.disinfecting contaminated surfaces such as​ counter tops and baby changing stations
4.Avoid eating or​ drinking foods or​ liquids that might be contaminated

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