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Ask The Expert

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What is Gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach, which occurs as a result of bacterial toxins or a viral infection. Gastroenteritis may cause vomiting, diarrhea, an irritated stomach and irritated or inflamed intestines. The primary cause includes viral and bacterial infections.

What causes Gastroenteritis?

The most common cause of gastroenteritis is the virus itself. The gastroenteritis flu can be caused by many different kinds of viruses. The two most common types are the Rotavirus and Norovirus.

Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in children and babies and is a foodborne disease.

Bacteria such as E-Coli and Salmonella may also trigger the stomach flu and make the flu worse. Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria are the most common causes of gastroenteritis and are spread through undercooked meat, eggs or through poultry juices.

There are many ways in which Gastroenteritis can spread:

  • Coming into contact with someone who has the virus;
  • Eating contaminated food and water;
  • Not washing your hands after using the bathroom

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis

The primary symptoms of Gastroenteritis are:

  • Watery diarrhea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Nausea;
  • Stomach pain;
  • Cramps;
  • Fever;
  • Headaches;

When diarrhea and vomiting happens, this may lead and cause you to become dehydrated:

Signs of dehydration:

  • Dry skin;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Feel light-headed;
  • Feel really thirsty;


Diagnosing Gastroenteritis

The doctor will most probably ask about your illness and check what symptoms you have; he may also check for signs of dehydration and abnormal pain. For the physician to determine what kind of bacteria is triggering the infection, he could require you to hand over a stool sample for analysis. Blood samples may also be taken to check for dehydration.

Treatment for Gastroenteritis

If the bacterial gastroenteritis is a severe case, the patient may be admitted to hospital and will be given fluids and salts intravenously – this is common in dehydrated individuals.

Treatment also available for Gastroenteritis includes antibiotics. These are however only usually recommended for people who have severe cases of Gastroenteritis.

If the Gastroenteritis is a mild case, then you could treat your illness at home:

  • One should eat very often, but only eat small amounts of food and avoid any proteins;
  • Drink plenty of water or other fluids throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated;
  • Eat foods that contain potassium, such as fruit juice and bananas;
  • If one cannot keep fluids down hospital treatment or a visit to your GP may be needed.
  • Don’t take medications without speaking to your doctor first;

Prevention of Gastroenteritis
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before you eat;
  • Do not make food for others if you still have the symptoms;
  • Avoid close contact with others, if you still have the illness;
  • Avoid eating meat;
  • Avoid milk and dairy products;
  • Avoid eating raw meat at all costs;
  • Wash all vegetables before you eat these;

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