Andrea Bernhard, MD
Dr. Bernhard became a physician in order to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Her goal is to treat every patient with respect and dignity, and to deliver the highest quality care. Dr. Bernhard has lived in Hawaii for 10 years, and even completed her residency at the University of Hawaii. In her own words, “I get to care for wonderful people in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis)
In brief, stomach flu is an infection of the intestines or gut. This infection can be from viruses, bacteria, or other microbes. Additionally, one may develop diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Often, a fever is a visible sign of this infection.
To add, aching limbs and headache visible signs too. Typically, prescription for stomach flu comprises antidiarrheal medicines.
To note, infection with viruses are common causes of stomach flu in adults. To add, viruses include noroviruses and adenoviruses. Addtionally, being in close contact spreads the viruses. To note, transmission can occur by eating infected food. Further, poor sanitation is another cause.
A major cause is food poisoning from eating infected food. Bacteria like Campylobacteria, Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli) are chief causes. Importantly, the toxins produced by these bacteria cause food poisoning.
To note, pay attention to your symptoms. Seek medical help if there is dehydration. Also, seek help if there is severe abdominal pain. Visit you doctor if you have a persistent fever. Similarly, visit your doctor if you have severe diarrhea. Also, especially if it lasts longer than two days. Also, visit your doctor if you have vomiting lasting longer than two days. Dehydration in adults may cause tiredness, dizziness, and headaches. Additionally, it may cause muscular cramps, dry mouth and irritability. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. As a result, it requires immediate medical attention. Thus, prescription for stomach flu focuses on addressing these symptoms.
Symptoms settle within a few days. This is because your immune system clears the infection by itself. Prescription for stomach flu consists of antidiarrheal medicines. These medicines help stop watery bowels.
You should drink lots of water. Drink about 2 liters of water a day. The body loses fluids during bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. Therefore, you need to drink lots of water. Avoid fluids with a lot of sugar as it aggravates the diarrhea. Children and old people should take Oral Rehydration drinks every half an hour. These contain a good balance of water, salts and sugar. Also, they can be made at home.
Eat light meals regularly. You should eat plain and simple foods such as wholemeal bread and rice.
Complications can be severe. This is if the infected person has diabetes. Or it can be if the person is under chemotherapy. Possible complications arise mainly due to lack of fluids. Furthermore, it is due to lack of salt (electrolyte) in the body. Severe dehydration leads to a drop in blood pressure. As a result, it causes reduced blood flow to your vital organs. If dehydration is not treated, kidney failure may occur. Medical attention is suggested. The dehydrated person is administered a drip of fluid directly into the veins.
Reactive complications occur where the infection spreads. This causes joint inflammation (arthritis). Additionally, it causes skin inflammation and eye inflammation. Eye inflammation can either be conjunctivitis or uveitis. This, however, is not present in case of viral infections.
If salmonella infection caused the stomach flu, the infection may spread to other parts of your body. Such as bones, joints, or the meninges that surround your brain and spinal cord.
Haemolytic uraemic syndrome can occur. The person suffers anaemia (a low platelet count in the blood). The person also suffers from kidney failure. This results when a certain type of E. coli infection causes stomach flu.
Irritable bowel syndrome and Lactose intolerance is the after effects of a bout of stomach flu.
The stomach flu is easily passed on from person to person. Hence, if you have the stomach flu, ensure regular washing of your hands. Especially after going to the toilet. Avoid sharing towels and flannels. Do not prepare or serve food to others. If the cause of stomach flu is due to a microbe called Cryptosporidium spp., do not swim in public swimming pools. Do not do so for two weeks after the last episode of diarrhea.
To prevent spreading this disease, wash hands regularly and properly. Take special measures when visiting countries with poor sanitation.
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