Gastroenteritis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
What is Gastroenteritis?
Also called intestinal flu, traveler's diarrhea, viral enteritis, and food poisoning, gastroenteritis is a self-limiting disorder characterized by diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. It occurs in all age-groups and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries.
In the United States, gastroenteritis ranks second to the common cold as a cause of lost work time and fifth as the cause of death among young children. It also can be life-threatening in elderly and debilitated people.
What are the Causes of Gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis has many possible causes. Some of them are listed below:
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gastroenteritis?
Clinical manifestations vary, depending on the pathogen and the level of GI tract involved. Gastroenteritis in adults is usually a self-limiting, nonfatal disease that produces diarrhea, abdominal discomfort (ranging from cramping to pain), nausea,and vomiting. Other possible symptoms include fever, malaise, and borborygmi.
In children and elderly and debilitated people, gastroenteritis produces the same symptoms, but the inability of these patients to tolerate electrolyte and fluid losses leads to a higher mortality.
Diagnosis for Gastroenteritis
Patient history can aid diagnosis of gastroenteritis. A stool culture as well as stool examination for ova and parasites should be obtained. Blood cultures are indicated in febrile patients.
Treatment for Gastroenteritis
Usually supportive, treatment consists of nutritional support and increased fluid intake. An episode of acute gastroenteritis is self-limiting. When an episode is severe and produces symptoms for more than 3 or 4 days and the patient is a young child or an elderly or debilitated person, hospitalization may be necessary. Treatment may include fluid and electrolyte replacement, antibiotic therapy, and antiemetics.
Special Considerations and Prevention Tips for Gastroenteritis
Below are some tips which will help you to control the disease and prevent it from getting serious.
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