Things That You Need to Know About Gastroenteritis
The term gastroenteritis refers to the irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The gastrointestinal tract includes the stomach and the small and large intestines. Generally, gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria, food poisoning, parasites and other viruses. It is also referred to as gastric or stomach flu although it is not really linked to influenza virus.
In children, gastroenteritis is usually caused by viruses which include adenovirus, rotavirus, calicivirus, parvovirus, astrovirus, and norovirus. Gastroenteritis with viral cause is usually due to poor hand washing or having a close contact with an infected person. On the other hand, gastroenteritis can also have a bacterial cause. Bacterial causes of gastroenteritis include E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shigella. Parasites or protozoan can also cause gastroenteritis. Examples of which include Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include low grade fever, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, stomach bloating, abdominal cramps, and headache. If the condition is serious, it may involve blood in the stool or in the vomit. Swelling in the abdomen and high fever can also occur. Diarrhea can also lead to dehydration and loss of electrolytes. Dehydration may have symptoms such as excessive thirst, lack of tears, very dry mouth, and little or no urination.
In general, vomiting and diarrhea are indicative of gastroenteritis. There are no specific laboratory tests needed in order to make a diagnosis for gastroenteritis. Usually, the doctor will get a detailed history from the patient and that includes medical treatments, diet and manner of food preparation, and recent travel destinations.
Gastroenteritis is not a lifelong disease. It does not also require pharmacologic therapy because the body is able to fight off the infection. The treatment goal for gastroenteritis is often directed towards rehydration and replacement of lost electrolytes. Usually, oral rehydration therapy is the treatment of choice for gastroenteritis, although there are some cases wherein lost electrolytes are administered intravenously.
In order to prevent gastroenteritis, proper hand washing is encouraged. Food preparation should also be clean.
Aside from maintaining proper hygiene, it is also necessary to maintain an active lifestyle in order to achieve optimum health.