What is Gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, describes inflammation of the GI tract affecting the stomach and small intestine. With gastroenteritis, your stomach and intestines become irritated and inflamed typically due to a viral or bacterial infection.
What Are the Symptoms of Gastroenteritis?
With gastroenteritis, the main symptoms you probably have are watery diarrhea and vomiting. You might also have stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and a headache. You may also become dehydrated due to diarrhea and vomiting. Signs of dehydration include dry skin and a mouth, feeling lightheaded, and unquenchable thirst. Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
What Causes Gastroenteritis?
There are many ways gastroenteritis can be spread:
- Contact with someone who has the virus
- Contaminated food or water
- Unwashed hands after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper
The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a virus. Gastroenteritis flu can be caused by many different kinds of viruses. The main types are rotavirus and norovirus.
Rotavirus is the world’s most common cause of diarrhea in infants and young children. Norovirus is the most common cause of serious gastroenteritis and also foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S.
Although not as common, bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can also trigger the stomach flu. Salmonella and campylobacter bacteria are the most common bacterial causes of gastroenteritis in the U.S. and are usually spread by undercooked poultry, eggs, or poultry juices. Salmonella can also be spread through pet reptiles or live poultry.
What is the Treatment?
Treatment for gastroenteritis mostly includes consuming lots of fluids and getting rest. While recovering from gastroenteritis, also make sure to avoid contaminated food and water by washing hands often in order to prevent infection.