What is Gastroenteritis / Stomach Flu ?
Gastroenteritis, also known as viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu, is a very common condition that consists of the infection of the gastrointestinal tract by some gastrointestinal viruses. Symptoms related to gastroenteritis are caused by the destruction of the intestinal wall due to the virus presence. Gastroenteritis is commonly seen in children but it can affect virtually all types of persons at any age.
Gastroenteritis Signs and Symptoms
Gastroenteritis results in signs and symptoms related to your digestive system and might cause some of the following symptoms:
- Profuse diarrhea.
- Abdominal cramps and pain.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Low grade fever.
- General discomfort.
The severity of the symptoms depends on every person and their immune system. Most people suffering from gastroenteritis recover without any complication, but for infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems, viral gastroenteritis can be very serious.
Gastroenteritis Common Causes
Gastroenteritis is usually related to the ingestion of contaminated food or water, and after having contact with an infected person. Some of the most common viruses responsible for gastroenteritis include Noroviruses and Rotavirus.
Even though gastroenteritis is a world-wide affliction and it occurs in people of all ages and races, there are some particular groups of people more susceptible to gastroenteritis, including:
- Young children.
- Elderly adults.
- Kindergarten or school children.
- People with a compromised immune system.
Most cases of gastroenteritis can be diagnosed based on the signs and symptoms typically related to this affliction and a physical exam. However, doctors can also request some additional tests like a stool test to confirm the presence of the viruses or to discard some other more serious conditions like bacterial or parasitic infection.
There is not a specific medical treatment for gastroenteritis. Due to its viral nature, antibiotics have no therapeutic action in these cases, your own body and immune system will take care to destroy the infection in a few days.
The treatment is based on managing the symptoms and avoiding complications like dehydration. Some recommendations include:
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Anti-inflammatory medications in case of headaches or fever.
- Having a healthy diet.
It’s important to know that in case your symptoms are too severe and if you start feeling too weak, you should go to the emergency room in order to receive the help you need and avoid serious complications.