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Stomach flu or gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the intestinal system’s lining caused by bacteria, virus or toxins that lead to dehydration, vomiting or nausea, abdominal cramps and pain, watery diarrhoea and fever .
4 viruses were accountable for 54% of the acute gastroenteritis (AGE) instances in children hospitalised in Pune, Maharashtra, from May 2017 through December 2019 . Most instances of gastroenteritis occur rapidly and usually last less than a week. The majority of patients can recover by consuming rehydrating fluids at home without medical intervention. However, elderly individuals, children, pregnant women, and individuals with compromised immune systems are at risk of contracting more severe infections.
Here’s a quick glance at the symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment of gastroenteritis.
|Symptoms||Watery diarrhoea, Abdominal cramps, Stomach-ache, Limb-ache, Headache, Nausea, Loss of appetite, Vomiting, Mild fever|
|Complications||Dehydration, Shock, Organ damage, Death|
|Causes||Rotavirus, Astrovirus, Adenovirus, Norovirus, Parasites, Bacteria toxins, Chemicals|
|Onset||12 to 48 hours after infection|
|Diagnosis||Stool tests, Physical exams, Medical history|
|Prevention||Sanitary hygiene, Food hygiene, Use bleach-based disinfectants, Wash hands with soap, Do not consume unsafe drinking water|
|Medication||Replace lost fluids and electrolytes, Over-the-counter medicines|
Read on to get a detailed overview of stomach flu or gastroenteritis and its symptoms, types, diagnosis, treatment and complications.
Gastroenteritis symptoms usually emerge 1 or 2 days after infection and can last for 1 week or 2 in some instances. The most common symptoms of gastro include :
A variety of reasons can cause gastroenteritis. Viral gastroenteritis spreads by touching infected surfaces, sneezing, coughing, and thus, is highly contagious. Norovirus is the most widespread cause of viral gastroenteritis. However, other viruses cause gastro, including    :
Norovirus affects people of all ages, whereas the rest primarily infect young children and newborns. Other causes of gastro include :
If you are worried or need guidance for someone with gastroenteritis, call a healthcare professional or avail of 102 and 112 emergency services. Doctors may ask for faecal samples to identify the cause of the symptoms. Also, administering antibiotics is necessary in cases of bacterial infections .
Pregnant women, older people, and those with a weak immune system or underlying health issues must consult a medical expert immediately.
Adults should visit a doctor if:
In newborns, diarrhoea causes severe dehydration within a couple of days. If left untreated, dehydration can result in the death of a child within 1 day.
Seek immediate medical attention for a child if:
Seek medical attention if you have these tell-tale signs :
If the symptoms are minor, patients do not need to undergo physical exams or tests. However, in other cases, doctors may require stool tests to identify the cause of the infection. Furthermore, doctors may also recommend a few extra tests to rule out the possibility of any other ailments. Healthcare professionals diagnose viral gastroenteritis after examining and speaking with patients regarding their symptoms :
Doctors ask patients about their:
Medical experts may do the following during a physical examination:
Healthcare professionals provide a container to patients for collecting and analysing their faeces. Stool tests help detect:
Most episodes of viral gastroenteritis are not life-threatening, last only a few days and recover without medical intervention. Adults may benefit from over-the-counter diarrhoea or nausea medication, while kids may not. However, they can be fatal if dehydration occurs. Individuals suffering from dehydration may require immediate medical attention or hospitalisation.
People with nausea should eat tiny amounts of easy-to-digest, bland food like rice, bread, crackers, or bananas. In severe gastro cases, patients may need to get admitted to a hospital to administer fluids directly via intravenous means .
Drinking liquids is the best gastroenteritis therapy, which helps replenish lost electrolytes and fluids and prevents dehydration. Patients with vomiting should sip small quantities of oral rehydration solutions and fluids at a time .
However, consult with medical experts before administering these remedies to toddlers and newborns.
Adults can use over-the-counter medications to treat viral gastro, such as :
Administering over-the-counter medications can be hazardous to toddlers and newborns. Therefore, consult with healthcare professionals before doing so. Adults with fever or bloody diarrhoea should also refrain from using over-the-counter medication.
Being contagious, gastroenteritis can spread when a healthy person comes into contact with an infected person or by consuming contaminated drinks or food.
One can implement various precautions to avoid contracting or spreading gastro-causing parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Follow the guidelines below to protect yourself from gastroenteritis  :
Norovirus epidemics are often related to the consumption of contaminated vegetables, fruits, and oysters. Therefore, wash them thoroughly and fully boil shellfish before consumption. Rotavirus vaccines can be administered to children above 2 months of age to reduce the chances of contracting gastro in the future .
The most common complication related to a person suffering from viral gastroenteritis is dehydration :
The expenses involved in gastroenteritis treatment are as follows, with a significant variation between privatised and governmental hospitals :
Based on yearly household expenses, the median cost of:
Take special care while visiting places around the globe with inadequate sanitation since the chances of contracting a stomach ailment are higher. For instance, always boil tap water before consumption.
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Gastroenteritis spreads through physical contact and contaminated water or food sources. For example, touching shared utensils, handrails, switches and buttons, other infected people and consuming contaminated water or food causes the spread of gastro.
Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, adults older than the age of 65, and individuals with chronic ailments like asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and lung and heart conditions are most vulnerable to gastroenteritis.
You must go directly to an emergency if you have severe diarrhoea, abdominal pain, did not pee in half a day, frequent vomiting, and black stool with blood in it.
You should consult a doctor if you notice children (under 2 years of age) having irritation on their buttocks. Doctors will advise you further on the appropriate medical courses.
You must take your children directly to emergency if they have a fever, dehydration, did not drink anything for more than 6 hours, or have blood in stool or vomit, with stool being black and vomit being green.
Keep and maintain healthy food and sanitary hygiene to protect yourself from gastroenteritis. Moreover, do not consume contaminated water and food, instead wash your hands frequently, and refrain from touching your face and mouth.
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