You may have heard the term ‘stomach flu’ thrown around a few times. Often people are referring to gastroenteritis, a condition that is not the flu but typically exhibits some few-like symptoms. According to MedlinePlus, gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the intestines that results from a virus, bacteria, or parasite. It’s a highly infectious condition that also affects the stomach and may also cause swelling and irritation. There are various types of gastroenteritis, but the most common is viral gastroenteritis. Visit AFC Urgent Care Bedford if you start to experience any of the common symptoms.
Viral gastroenteritis can be characterized as an intestinal infection that may be caused by rotavirus, norovirus, or adenovirus. Symptoms of the condition include:
- Abdominal cramps.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Watery diarrhea.
- Occasional muscle aches or headaches.
- Low-grade fever in some patients.
Signs to look for in children include dry diapers due to a lack of urination, drowsiness, dry mouth, and a lack of tears. It could take 1 to 3 days after getting infected for symptoms to appear. Symptoms usually disappear quickly, within 1 or 2 days. However, some symptoms can persist for over a week outside of what’s typical.
The primary way to contract viral gastroenteritis is one of two ways: coming into contact with an infected individual or by consuming contaminated food or water. Children can receive vaccines before age six months to guard against rotavirus. Other steps to prevent contraction include:
- Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before eating.
- Clean dirty hands with alcohol-based sanitizers
- Wash surfaces with a bleach-based cleaner if contaminated by an infected person
- Avoid eating foods that contaminated
Bacterial gastroenteritis is caused by one of several bacteria, such as E. coli, staphylococcus, or salmonella, that infect the stomach or intestine. This condition is often called food poisoning since it’s typically caused by ingesting bacteria-laden food or water. Symptoms may include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever or chills, or bloody stool. It may take four days after getting infected for symptoms to appear.
Treatment is commonly home care since the condition tends to clear up on its own. Intravenous fluids and electrolytes are often recommended for dehydration. To address the general symptoms, get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, avoid dairy, fiber, fruits, and sugary beverages, and consume mineral-rich foods in small quantities. Try to prevent bacterial gastroenteritis by:
- Washing hands before handling food and after bathroom use and handling animals
- Keep your distance from an infected person
- Avoid eating contaminated foods
- Keep bathroom and kitchen clean
This type of gastroenteritis is also called amoebiasis and intestinal amebiasis and is often contracted when persons travel through countries with poor sanitation. It’s more commonly found in young adults and rarely affects children below five. Amebic dysentery results from a parasitic infection that invades the intestines. Signs of an infection can manifest less than a month after the initial infection, but it can also take years before symptoms appear. Amebic dysentery symptoms include fever, stomach cramp, gas, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, or diarrhea containing mucus.
While diarrhea will probably end in a few weeks, treatment may include prescription medication in the form of antibiotics to kill the parasite. Prevent amebic dysentery by:
- Performing proper hand hygiene with the use of soap and water after using the toilet and disposing of waste
- Drink water from safe sources, like bottled water, or boiled tap water
- Avoid food from food vendors, raw dairy products, and vegetables and fresh fruits that you didn’t peel.
This form of gastroenteritis is also called shigellosis and is caused by the bacteria bacilli of the genus Shigella. It takes 1 to 6 days for the disease to manifest itself after the initial infection. Symptoms can be mild or sudden and severe and end in death stemming from dehydration and bacterial-toxin poisoning. It is characterized by the frequent passage of loose stools mixed with blood and mucus, along with symptoms that include abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting, and tenesmus. It usually takes a week for the infection to pass, and most patients may not need prescription medications. To alleviate the disease symptoms, drink plenty of fluids-both water and sports drinks, and try over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen to manage the cramps. Prevent bacillary dysentery by:
- Wash hands correctly with soap and water before eating ad after using the bathroom
- Avoid street food
- Drink only bottled, boiled, or can water
- Do not use tap water to brush your teeth; use bottled or canned water only
- Stay away from anyone infected with the disease
Gastroenteritis comes in different forms and shares some symptomatic similarities. However, they each have a different root cause, incubation period, and recovery time. Knowing how to prevent these illnesses in the first place can help to keep you out of trouble and healthy. Good health and hygiene practices are some of the crucial ways to keep gastroenteritis at bay. Know the risks and stay safe. Visit AFC Urgent Care Bedford for more information on staying safe and healthy.