Gastroenteritis is a prevalent stomach condition that primarily affects children of all ages. People with Gastroenteritis suffer from inflammation of their stomach and intestines. Most of the time, Gastroenteritis occurs because of the spread of a bacterial or viral illness.
Gastroenteritis is more commonly known as a stomach virus or the digestive flu. It is not a serious condition and often goes away on its own. However, it does spread quickly and is contagious!
How does Gastroenteritis spread?
Gastroenteritis spreads in many ways. It is commonly spread between family and friends in a daycare setting. Most of the time, it is because of contaminated foods. For instance, if someone drinks from a cup that another person drank from that had Gastroenteritis, they could also catch it.
It also spreads when people do not wash their hands after handling food or objects. Infants can die if they catch Gastroenteritis because of the symptoms. Since babies cannot communicate, parents may not notice that their child is dehydrated. When an infant is dehydrated, they cry out and lose fluids, resulting in a fever.
Raw shellfish may also carry bacteria that cause Gastroenteritis and upset stomachs. The symptoms are similar to ‘food poisoning’ and interchangeable words. Sometimes, people can also contaminate water sources, and however, this is a less common threat.
The symptoms of Gastroenteritis vary from person to person. For instance, some people can carry the virus or bacteria without showing any symptoms. However, if you notice any of these signs, you should seek treatment immediately:
More severe symptoms and complications require emergency medical attention. This is more common in small children and infants as their bodies are smaller and weaker. If you notice any of the complications listed below, you should go to the hospital as soon as possible:
- Vomiting Blood
- High Fever over 103 degrees Fahrenheit
- Extreme Weight Loss
- Red Eyes
- Yellowing of the Skin
Usually, patients can diagnose Gastroenteritis independently as it is a common illness. However, children and infants should seek medical professionals since their bodies are not viruses or bacteria.
You can take your child to your general family doctor, where they will ask about the symptoms and how long they have been going on. Sometimes, a stool or urine sample is required. A common cause is bacteria, which can be found in stool samples as they pass through the system. It is also essential to understand that there is no quick or sure way of knowing if you have Gastroenteritis. While this is the case, the physical symptoms are unique to Gastroenteritis, and it is usually just uncomfortable and not severe.
Adults suffering from light symptoms should only see a doctor if they experience a high fever, dehydration, passing out, or blood in stool/urine.
How is Gastroenteritis Treated?
No one medication can get rid of the virus or bacteria causing Gastroenteritis. Usually, at-home care is enough. In addition, medical professionals recommend drinking plenty of water and resting until the symptoms come to a halt.
As most people lose their appetite and experience nausea, it is best to start eating bland foods. Bland foods that are nutritious include crackers, oatmeal, bananas, and apple sauce.
You should also start drinking more water or liquids with electrolytes. Experts recommend taking small sips and not large gulps, as they can upset your stomach and cause runny diarrhea. This only results in dehydration, causing the cycle to keep going. If the symptoms worsen or you are at risk, you may need hydration and medical emergency care to ensure no severe complications occur from dehydration.
The good thing in this stomach flu should clear up on its own in a minimum of 2 days. However, if you don’t take care of yourself properly, it can last up to three weeks!
Prevention of Gastroenteritis
You don’t have to worry about Gastroenteritis frequently, though. There are many ways to prevent this condition. For instance, since it spreads through contamination, make sure to clean every dish and cup with soap and hot water.
Wash your hands frequently and right away. You should wash your hands under running water and scrub in between your fingers to get rid of any dirt. When in public spaces, try
not to touch your face, especially your mouth and eyes, as bacteria and viruses are contagious!
Since water sources can be contaminated with viruses, parasites, and bacteria, try to drink water from clean sources as much as possible. Although you may not always know which water source is clear from bacteria, it may be best to drink from water bottles. This is especially important when traveling to communities or countries you know little about.
As tempting as it is to save food or ice that falls on surfaces like tables, don’t place these items in your mouth! It can cause Gastroenteritis if bacteria is on the ice cube.
If you, yourself, have Gastroenteritis, avoid public areas with community water! For instance, until the virus or bacteria clears your system, you should avoid swimming in public pools with other people. You can accidentally spread Gastroenteritis by contaminating the water.
How Can I Deal with Gastroenteritis?
In conclusion, Gastroenteritis is a simple and common viral infection. It is rarely dangerous and often referred to as the stomach flu or stomach virus. It does cause uncomfortable symptoms, though. However, you can treat and manage the symptoms so Gastroenteritis does not worsen.
Gastroenteritis does complicate the health of an infant and small child. Since infants and children have delicate stomachs and have not been exposed to bacteria and viral infections, Gastroenteritis affects them majorly. In addition, the symptoms are often dangerous because excessively throwing up causes dehydration.
Children and infants may struggle to drink as they do not understand what is happening to their bodies. Hydration and rest are vital for treating and recovering from Gastroenteritis. Doctors cannot do much except prescribe anti-nausea medications or provide hydrating fluids.
- How long does Gastroenteritis last? Gastroenteritis usually lasts for 1-3 days, however, in severe cases it can last up to 14 days.
- How can I clear up Gastroenteritis? The best way to clear up your Gastroenteritis is to let your stomach “Clear out”, indulge in some rest, and drink plenty of water.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!