Also known as ‘stomach flu’ or ‘gastro’, gastroenteritis is a common condition that affects the gut (the stomach and intestines) and is often highly infectious.
Gastro is triggered primarily by infections that lead to inflammation of the digestive system’s lining. It may result in nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting.
Although gastro is typically not serious, it can cause dehydration. Milder kinds can be treated at home with fluid intake. However, individuals who are older, younger, or have poorer immune systems are more likely to experience more severe illnesses.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis
When to See a Doctor
If a child experiences dehydration or is unable to swallow a sip of fluids, consult a doctor right away (dry mouth, no urine for 6 hours or more, or lethargy).
If an adult or older kid experiences symptoms like fever, severe abdominal discomfort, blood in their diarrhea, or dehydration symptoms like thirst and decreased urine, lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes, or feeling dizzy while standing, they should consult a doctor.
Causes of Gastroenteritis
Diagnosis for Gastroenteritis
The doctor can diagnose gastro after talking to you and performing tests. To identify the organism causing your condition, your provider may order a stool test if the symptoms do not improve.
Treatment of Stomach Flu
Gastroenteritis often lasts for a few days and usually does not require treatment. Although it may not be safe for kids, medication for nausea or diarrhea can be helpful for adults. Antibiotics are seldom beneficial.
Drinking fluids is typically the most important treatment for gastroenteritis. For young children, frequent small sips are simpler than a huge amount consumed all at once. Even if you are vomiting, keep drinking regularly.
If you are feeling queasy, try to consume little bits of food frequently. Start with bland, simple things like plain crackers, bread, bananas, rice, and chicken when your appetite returns.
Avoid undiluted fruit juice, soft drinks, and sports drinks as well as milk and other dairy products because the sugar in these items may exacerbate the condition.
How to Prevent Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is usually transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. It can also spread through close contact with an infected person, sharing utensils or personal items, or touching surfaces contaminated with the virus or bacteria and then touching the mouth.
The most common causes of gastroenteritis include viral infections such as norovirus, rotavirus, and adenovirus, as well as bacterial infections caused by pathogens like Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Campylobacter, and others. In some cases, gastroenteritis can also be caused by parasites or toxins produced by bacteria.
The treatment of gastroenteritis focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing dehydration. This includes drinking plenty of fluids (water, electrolyte solutions) to stay hydrated, avoiding solid foods initially, and gradually reintroducing a bland diet as tolerated. Over-the-counter medications may be used to alleviate symptoms such as diarrhea or abdominal cramps, but it is essential to consult a healthcare provider before taking any medication, especially for young children.