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Your First Aid Guide To Gastroenteritis Or Stomach Flu

Dr. Bhavani A

Gastroenteritis is a common illness of the stomach that can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, cramps and sometimes fever.

Gastroenteritis is a common illness of the stomach that can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, cramps and sometimes fever. The condition although is not serious but can make you very dehydrated. If the symptoms get worse, consult your doctor immediately. It is not advised to give or take medicines without consulting the physician.

Gastroenteritis is caused by:

  • Viruses, bacteria, or parasites.
  • Consuming contaminated food and water.
  • Not washing hands properly.
  • Reaction to new food (young children).
  • Some uncooked/undercooked food like shellfish, oysters, eggs, etc.
  • Eating a lot of acidic foods like tomatoes, oranges, etc.
  • Coming in contact with a person contaminated the virus.
  • Side effects of medicines.

Symptoms: 

  • Watery stool. Bloody stool indicates more severe infection.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Headache or dizziness.
  • Nausea, vomiting or both.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mild fever.

If you believe you have gastroenteritis:

  • Take small, frequent sips of water.  Drinking water rapidly can aggravate nausea and vomiting. ORS can also help in replenishing the lost fluids and minerals.
  • Try not to eat for a few hours. Give your stomach some time to relax. 
  • Urinate at regular intervals. Infrequent urination is a sign of dehydration.
  • Eat bland, easy-to-digest foods like banana, plain rice, and white bread. You may also go for broth, coconut water, and low-fat curd.

Consult a doctor if you:

  • Vomit blood.
  • Have bloody diarrhoea.
  • Feel unusually drowsy.

For children older than 2 years:

  • Dry mouth, sunken eyes, and tearless crying.
  • Fever that lasts more than two days. 

For infants younger than 2 years:

  • Consult a doctor immediately when the diaper is dry for more than 3 hours.
  • Be conscious if the soft spot on the head becomes sunken.

Better safe than sorry

  • Make sure you wash your hands, especially after using the toilet. Teach your children that they should rub their hands with soap vigorously for 20 seconds. 
  • If water and soap aren’t available, carry wet wipes or sanitizers.
  • Avoid contact with a person who’s a victim of gastroenteritis.
  • Disinfect hard surfaces such as doorknobs, faucets, and floor.
  • If your child attends a daycare center, make sure that they have different rooms for changing diapers and preparing food. The food serving room should be separate as well. Keep a check whether they are disposing of the used diapers in a sanitary way.

Travelers keep in mind 

  • Drink packaged water.
  • Use packaged water to brush your teeth as well.
  • Say no to ice cubes as they may be made from contaminated water.
  • Avoid raw food such as peeled fruits, vegetables, and salads.
  • Don’t eat undercooked foods such as fish and meat.

Don’t eat undercooked foods such as fish and meat. You can consult with top Gastroenterologists with mfine app.

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