When a person feels sick and uncomfortable in the stomach, it is generally called stomach flu. Doctors call it an attack of gastroenteritis. The condition is caused by a virus but not a flu virus, so to call it stomach flu may not be correct.
The sickening stomach condition can also be caused due to bacteria and parasites.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis
The symptoms of an attack of gastroenteritis include diarrhoea, nausea and sometimes actual vomiting. These symptoms may be accompanied by headache, fever, chills and severe pain in the stomach.
The common of them all is the one caused by a virus and the sickness can last 12 to 48 hours and the effects upto 3 days. If gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria or parasite, it may last much longer.
The stomach problem can be more dangerous for people who have other people who already have some health issues, so also babies and aged people.
What are the types of gastroenteritis?
Viral gastroenteritis is caused when a virus infects the stomach cells and inflames its lining as well as the intestines. Rotavirus is the one that usually infects infants and children.
The virus is contagious and can spread from an infected person to a healthy person through touch or food. You can also get infected by eating sea food like shellfish, from contaminated water or fruits and vegetables not properly washed.
Microscopic organisms are all around us and may are harmless but some others like Salmonella and E.coli, can infest food and cause stomach issue in humans. They can get into food at any point, as the food is harvested, processed, stored or prepared. The bad bacteria can also get into food from kitchen counters and utensils.
Parasites are tiny organisms that live inside other creatures. Mostly they spread through contaminated water and cause infection in humans. If contaminated is used for growing food or preparing it or if you swim in such water, there is all possibility of getting infected with the parasite.
Treatments for gastroenteritis
Whatever the organism that brings gastroenteritis, it is observed that they go off on their own if proper rest is taken and lot of fluids are consumed. If the condition is worse or lasts longer then a doctor prescribes antibiotics and other specialized drugs to clear the bacteria and parasite infection.
What are the complications?
Apart from severe dehydration due to diarrhoea, the gastroenteritis infection can cause haemolytic uremic syndrome especially in children. If E.coli is the suspect then it can bring down the RBC and platelet counts in the blood. The effect is that clotting is deactivated causing lots of bleeding. Hemolytic uremia can cause kidney disease and nervous disorder if left untreated.