Gastroenteritis is a common ailment that causes diarrhea and episodes of vomiting. It is usually brought about by a virus or bacteria. It affects individuals of all ages, but prevalent among young children.
One can acquire gastroenteritis if small particles of stool or vomit from an infected person enters the mouth such as via:
- Close contact with an infected individual
- Direct exposure to contaminated objects or surfaces
Consuming contaminated food
An individual with gastroenteritis is considered highly infectious once the symptoms start until 48 hours after all the symptoms have settled. Remember though that they might still be contagious for a brief time before and after.
The chief indications of gastroenteritis include:
- Abrupt, watery episodes of diarrhea
- Feeling sick
- Projectile vomiting
- Mild fever
Some individuals might have other symptoms such as stomach upset, appetite loss, headaches and aching limbs. The symptoms generally arise up to a day after being infected. The condition generally lasts less than a week, but might last longer.
What should I do?
If the individual experiences abrupt diarrhea and vomiting, it is vital stay at home until he/she starts to feel better. Remember that there is no specific treatment which is why it is best to allow the condition to run its course.
Some of the measures to help ease the symptoms include:
- Increase the intake of fluids to prevent dehydration. Water is the best option but you can also provide soup and fruits juices.
- Adequate rest
- Provide paracetamol for fever or body aches and pain
- If the individual has the urge to eat, provide small amounts of plain foods such as rice, soup, bread and pasta.
- Use special rehydration beverages if there are indications of dehydration such as dark urine or dry mouth
- Provide anti-vomiting medication if needed
Always bear in mind that gastroenteritis rapidly spreads. It is vital to wash hands on a regular basis while sick and do not go to work or school until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have settled to lessen the risk for spreading it to others.