Stomach Flu or Gastroenteritis

A viral or bacterial infection causes gastroenteritis. It is the inflammation of the stomach and the intestines. When you have this condition, you will have vomiting and diarrhoea. Commonly, many people call it as a stomach flu. These symptoms are often due to gastroenteritis.

What are the symptoms of Gastroenteritis?

The signs and symptoms of gastroenteritis include the following:

  • Stomach pain
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fever, nausea and headache
  • Diarrhea may lead to dehydration

The signs of dehydration include the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dry skin
  • Light-headedness

Seek medical help immediately if you have the above symptoms with watery diarrhea and vomiting.

Note: Dehydration should be treated in emergency room. The following symptoms warrant seeking emergency medical care immediately to prevent potential complications due to severe dehydration:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of tears
  • Extreme thirst
  • Little or no urination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Lack of alertness
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sunkun eyes

Stomach Flu in children

Dehydration occurs quickly in children. Therefore, when your child has stomach flu with watery diarrhea and vomiting and abdominal cramps, look for the signs. The child’s skin becomes dry, urine output becomes less and mouth becomes dry and also feel thirsty. Don’t send your child to school until all symptoms disappear. Don’t give any medicines to your child – such drugs are not usually given to children younger than 5 years.

What causes gastroenteritis?

Rotavirus causes diarrhea in infants and children. Norovirus also causes serious foodborne disease and gastroenteritis.

Bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli can also trigger stomach flu – but less commonly. These bacteria spread through live poultry, undercooked eggs and meat.

Contaminated food and drinking water spread another bacteria called shigella that causes gastroenteritis.

The less common cause of gastroenteritis is parasites such as giardia and cryptosporidium. You may get infected with them through contaminated drinking water.

When to call a doctor?

If you can’t walk, faint, confused or having trouble breathing due to severe dehydration, immediately call emergency department.

You should also see your doctor if you develop sudden and severe abdominal pain with vomiting and diarrhea.

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