Gastroenteritis and colitis are most commonly caused by viral or bacterial infections. Viral gastroenteritis is caused by norovirus, rotavirus, and sapovirus, while bacterial gastroenteritis is commonly caused by salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli. This condition is spread through germs and pathogens from one person to another, usually through contaminated food and water. In less common scenarios, parasitic infections are also one of the stomach infection causes.
There are many ways how such an infection can spread. Some of the examples of what causes gastroenteritis and colitis are as follows:
– Close contact with someone who has the virus or bacteria (food handlers with the virus or sharing food and utensils with someone who is infected, can spread the infection to you)
– Consuming contaminated food or water
– Poor toilet hygiene and improper waste disposal habits.
– Touching contaminated surfaces and touching their mouth or eating food without thoroughly washing hands
– Consuming foods and water that could be contaminated with sewage (seafood, especially shellfish, which may be used in making sushi)
– Consuming raw or undercooked foods
In simple words, poor hygiene practices are some of the stomach infection causes that result in the development of gastroenteritis.
1. Bacteria causing infectious gastroenteritis and colitis:
– Salmonella: Found in undercooked eggs, uncooked meats, and dairy products.
– E. coli: Found in ground meats, like minced beef and mutton, and salads (unwashed fruits and vegetables)
– Campylobacter jejuni: Found in uncooked poultry and meats.
– Yersinia: Found in pork
– Staphylococcus: Found in dairy products and uncooked meat and eggs
– Shigella: This bacteria is commonly found in swimming pools that are used by multiple people. Consuming this water while swimming can cause gastroenteritis.
Therefore, it is extremely important to thoroughly wash and clean your fruits, vegetables, and meat, before cooking and consuming it. It is also important not to compromise on the date of manufacture and expiry of these products. Experts also suggest not to refreeze meat after defrosting as this process may give rise to bacterial growth and contamination.
2. Virus causing infectious gastroenteritis and colitis:
Viral gastroenteritis is the most common type of gastroenteritis. It is commonly spread in healthcare facilities, among school children and in dormitories through the vomit or stools of an infected person. It can also be spread through touch, which is common among people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. The virus that cause viral gastroenteritis are as follows:
– Norovirus: The most common cause of viral gastroenteritis among children and adults. May last 1 to 3 days.
– Rotavirus: Common among infants of 3 months – 15 months. Symptoms may last 3 to 7 days.
– Adenovirus: Common in children under 2 years of age. Symptoms may last 5 to 12 days.
3. Parasites causing infectious gastroenteritis and colitis:
The most common parasites that cause parasitic gastroenteritis are Giardia and Cryptosporidium. These are usually found in food, water or soil that is contaminated with infected animal or human feces.
When to see a doctor?
If you have repeated bouts of infectious gastroenteritis and colitis symptoms, constant abdominal pain, watery stools that last more than 7 days, stools that have blood or pus in it, or if you show signs of dehydration, it is best to seek immediate medical attention. Dehydration can cause damage to the mental and physical being of a person, and should not be taken lightly.
Some signs of dehydration are as follows:
– Headaches, fatigue, and dizziness
– No urination for over 8 hours or small volumes of urination
– Dry eyes, mouth, and lack of tears in children
– Dull, sunken eyes
– Dark yellow urine that smells
– Dry skin that tents up on pinching
It is important to shed light on signs of dehydration in babies as the symptoms may be different from symptoms in adults. Some signs of dehydration in babies are as follows:
– Fewer wet nappies (lesser than 6 wet nappies per day)
– Dry skin and mouth
– Lack of tears when crying
– Sunken Fontanelle, (i.e. sunken soft spot on the head of an infant or toddler)
– Less activity (less play)
– In severe dehydration in babies, the infant may be excessively sleepy and fussy with sunken eyes and discolored hands and legs.
Consult your city’s top stomach doctors online to find out what’s causing your stomach problems