Did your stomach ache the last time you went out for dinner? And did you have continuous episodes of vomiting and loose stools after that?
There are chances that you are suffering from Gastroenteritis or Stomach flu. It leads to inflammation of the stomach. ‘Gastritis’ means stomach and ‘Enteritis’ refers to inflammation, although the inflammation itself is not restricted to the stomach and it extends to the intestines too.
Gastroenteritis can be of various types depending upon the microorganism involved. It can be Viral, Bacterial or Parasitic Gastroenteritis. On many occasions, Gastroenteritis can be a non-infectious type which is caused by chronic irritation of the stomach due to Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), exposure to toxins or due to lactose intolerance.
What causes Gastroenteritis?
The inflammation of the stomach is caused by the intake of food or water contaminated by bacteria, virus or parasites. Commonly involved organisms are:
- Escherichia coli
- Crohn’s disease
- Fish allergy
- Lactose intolerance
What are the common symptoms of Gastroenteritis?
Initially one has multiple vomiting episodes. If you develop a severe bacterial infection, it leads to severe pain in the gut region and stools stained with blood. Viral gastroenteritis is also associated with abdominal cramps and high-grade fever. There are other signs observed such as fatigue, weakness, headache, loss of appetite etc. You need to immediately consult the medical physician on the first symptoms. Children are commonly affected by Rotavirus which develops gastroenteritis symptoms causing dehydration which is accentuated by repeated bouts of diarrhea.
The confirmatory diagnosis of Gastroenteritis for the specific microbial agent can be performed using various blood and stool tests.
What are the treatment methods for Gastroenteritis?
Empirically, it is seen that the symptoms of the disease don’t last for long when treated at the earliest. Diarrhea associated with the disease can lead to various complications. The timely intervention with oral or intravenous fluids rehydrates the body and restores the lost body salts like sodium and potassium. You must avoid consuming fatty or spicy foods during the illness as these cause irritation in the stomach. The antibiotics can be used for combating the bacterial infection. Viral Gastroenteritis is often self-limited. Also, it is essential to take plenty of rest to enable the body to recuperate.
How can it be prevented?
The growth of microbes is primarily attributed to the cause of the disease. This necessitates inculcating the habit of daily hand-washing routine, especially in your kids. Clean the food thoroughly before consuming to deter the entry of the microbes. It is a good practice to drink water abundantly and flush out the toxins from the body regularly. Try to avoid contact with infected people as transmission occurs from their vomit or feces. Most importantly, protect your child against the Rotavirus induced Gastroenteritis by getting it an anti-rotavirus vaccination.
A sustainable solution
The most sustainable method to prevent the recurrent occurrence of the disease in our country is to increase a greater access to safe drinking water to the common masses. Majority of the people suffering from Gastroenteritis belong to the poor strata of society. Thus, it is the need of the hour to boost awareness of the water decontamination methods to ensure that the contamination is intercepted in the first place.