Gastroenteritis- Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Also called the ‘stomach flu,’ gastroenteritis is a highly infectious condition affecting the stomach and the intestine. Unlike other flues, gastro is not a respiratory system problem, but the infection-causing germs cause inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract. 
It causes nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Though this stomach flu is not very serious, its symptoms can lead to dehydration. It can be severe for the elderly and young kids whose immunity system is not that strong.

Causes of Gastroenteritis-

Gastro can occur through contaminated food and water. This contaminated water can contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These organisms are the cause of the stomach flu.
You can also catch the gastro infection if you are in touch with a person with this infection. Or you share anything like food, water, clothes, and utensils with an infected person. 
Certain medicines can also lead to this gastro infection. Apart from this, chemicals, for instance, lead poisoning, can act as a catalyst and trigger the stomach flu.

The most common viruses that cause gastroenteritis are-

  • Norovirus: This virus mainly occurs through contaminated food and water. Norovirus is a contagious virus that spreads from one person to another. You can catch it by sharing food or even by touching the surface that is affected by norovirus. Norovirus can affect both children and adults.
  • Rotavirus: This virus is more severe for infants and children. Adults with rotavirus do not show any symptoms. But these adults can surely pass this virus to children. Children generally catch this virus by putting infected objects and hands inside their mouths. Rotavirus can also spread through contaminated food.
  • Apart from these, bacteria like the Campylobacter bacterium and parasites like Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba histolytica can also cause gastro infection.

Symptoms of Gastro infection-

  • Diarrhea generally occurs in a watery form
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mild fever
  • Stomach cramps and pain in the abdomen region
  • Lack of energy
  • A little dehydration
  • Muscle aches at intervals
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth and throat

How does gastro infection last?

The symptoms of the infection appear 1 to 3 days after the infection. These symptoms generally last up to 2 days to a week. In severe cases, the infection can also last up to a period of 14 days.

Treatment of Gastroenteritis-

  • Eat light food and do not eat hot, spicy, and oily food. It would be best if you did not stop eating.
  • Antacids are essential to reduce the acid in the stomach.
  • Take a lot of fluids; it is necessary to stay hydrated.
  • Drink water after every watery stool. Even after vomiting, wait for a couple of minutes and then drink water sip by sip.
  • Drink rehydration drinks or make a potion of salt water and sugar.

Prevention of gastroenteritis-

In case you or any of your loved ones have a gastro infection, you must ensure to prevent the spread-

  • Do not eat food with others.
  • No sharing of clothes and towels with the infected person.
  • Ensure the infected person washes their hands frequently, especially after using the toilet. Do not rely just on the sanitizers.
  • Clean the sick area properly.
  • Avoid going to work, school, or any place outside the house. Stay indoors 48 hours after your last infected stool or vomiting.
  • Do not wash the clothes and beddings of the sick person with other’s stuff. Wash them separately in hot water with disinfectant liquid.

Gastroenteritis is not a very severe disease. The viral infections cause the stomach flu and will eventually get better on its own. But you can still take medical help over the call and consult your doctor. But if the symptoms are severe, you must not delay visiting the doctor.