Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract – stomach and the small intestine. It can be caused by a viral, bacterial or any parasitic infection. These infectious microorganisms can spread easily through contaminated food or water or through direct contact with an infected person. Gastroenteritis can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Gastroenteritis is also known as food poisoning, stomach flu or intestinal flu.
Gastroenteritis is caused by viruses and bacteria most commonly. A number of viruses including norovirus and rotavirus can cause gastroenteritis. The possible ways through which the virus and bacteria can enter your body are:
- Contaminated food and water
- Sharing things with infected person
- Direct contact with infected person
People with weaker immune systems are more prone to the disease.
The most common and major symptom of gastroenteritis is diarrhoea.
- Abdominal pain
- mild fever
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
- Poor feeding (in infants)
- Uncontrolled bowel motions
There is no specific and quick diagnostic test for gastroenteritis. The doctor may diagnose based on:
- Signs and symptoms
- Physical examination
- Stool tests
To prevent the infection and avoid spreading of the disease, the following measures can be useful:
- Avoid direct contact and sharing things with infected persons
- Avoid eating raw and uncooked foods, especially non vegetarian foods
- Get children vaccinated
- Disinfect home and surroundings
- Drink boiled water
- Ensure frequent and thorough hand wash.
There is no specific treatment measure for gastroenteritis. Medications may not be effective as viruses do not get affected by medicines like antibiotics. Treatment mostly includes self-care measures to prevent dehydration and stay comfortable. Some of the measures are:
- Avoid fatty foods
- Drink plenty of water
- Stay clean always
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Take liquid or semi solid foods
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