Gastroenteritis: Definition, Causes, Symptom, and Treatment

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A medical condition characterized by inflammation of the Gastroenteritisgastrointestinal tract, mainly the stomach and small intestine, is called gastroenteritis. It has been frequently called the stomach bug. Although it is not caused by influenza viruses, it is often referred to as stomach flu or gastric flu. They are, however, often caused by a different kind of virus. Rarely are they caused by bacteria, parasites and other sources. Viral and bacterial gastroenteritis are highly contagious

Due to the inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining, there is interference of the absorption in the intestines, one of the main functions of the digestive tract, which may lead to dehydration. Otherwise, symptoms go away within a few days.

Causes of Gastroenteritis

                There are many sources of gastroenteritis.Ninety percent of all cases can be attributed to viral infections. The rest are due to bacteria, parasites, contaminated water, and other non-infectious sources.

  • Virus
    • Rotavirus: most common in children
    • Norovirus
    • Adenovirus
    • Sapovirus
    • Astrovirus
    • Bacteria
      • Campylobacerjenuni¸and otherspecies of Campylobacter
      • Escherichia coli
      • Salmonella
      • Shigella
      • Parasites
        • Giardia lamblia
        • Entamoebahistolytica
        • Cryptosporidum species
        • Transmission
          • Consumption of contaminated water
          • Improper sanitation
          • Poor personal hygiene, such as transfer of bacterial feces to the mouth
          • Non-infectious
            • Medications, such as NSAIDs
            • Food containing lactose and gluten
            • Diseases
              • Crohn’s Disease

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis

Symptoms typically begin to manifest a day or two after acquiring the infection. The symptoms usually last from one to ten days, depending on the causative agent. For bacterial gastroenteritis, however, they last significantly longer. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Watery diarrhea
    • Bloody stool is usually associated with viral infection
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
    • Abdominal cramps
      • Severe abdominal pain is usually associated with bacterial infection
      • Fatigue
      • Headache
      • Fever

Treatment for Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis does not usually require emergency medical treatment. Treatment will depend on the cause butsymptoms will eventually disappear within days. It is rarely a cause for serious alarm. The most common complication which can result from gastroenteritis is dehydration. If one begins to show symptoms of dehydration, this is the time to seek medical advice. To ensure that no complications arise from gastroenteritis, some tips are advised.

  • Rest a lot.
  • Drink clear fluids frequently, such as water, fruit juices and sports drinks. Avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol. Also, avoid drinking milk as it may irritate the stomach.
  • Rehydration solutions may be also be prescribed by the doctor.
  • Gradually introduce healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • In extreme cases, intravenous fluids may be given.
  • If caused by bacteria, antibiotics should be taken.

Although gastroenteritis is a short-term illness, symptoms should not be disregarded. To avoid gastroenteritis, always ensure proper food sanitation and good body hygiene. First aid courses teach how to recognize symptom and give appropriate treatment in cases of medical situations like gastroenteritis, which is common to many diseases.

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