What is Gastroenteritis?
What is Gastroenteritis? Gastroenteritis is an infection of the intestine or stomach caused by several types of viruses and bacteria. This condition is also known as stomach flu or stomach flu. Gastroenteritis can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, or sometimes fever in the sufferer.
Gastroenteritis can be spread by close contact with an infected person or through a food or drink that has been contaminated with the virus. This infection is easily spread in closed public facilities, such as in the classroom, child care, or general care room.
Overcooked foods are left too long in room temperature can also be the cause of the emergence of gastroenteritis bacteria. These infections are often characterized by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This condition is often referred to as food poisoning. Gastroenteritis rarely causes complications. However, this condition can be fatal or even deadly if it occurs in infants, parents, and people who have problems with their immune system.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis
Symptoms of gastroenteritis will occur between 1-3 days after infection. The severity of symptoms varies, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms will generally last for 1-2 days, but can also up to 10 days. The symptoms that usually arise include:
- Pain and abdominal cramps.
- Watery diarrhea, but not mixed with blood (if the diarrhea is mixed with blood, the infection may be different and worse).
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Decreased appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Often sweats and skin becomes damp.
- Sometimes fever, headache, and muscle pains occur.
Here are some of the symptoms that are quite severe in adults and should get treatment from a doctor immediately:
- Vomiting blood.
- Vomiting after drinking.
- Vomiting lasting for more than 48 hours.
- Fever above 40 degrees Celsius.
- Experiencing dehydration symptoms, such as rarely urinating and dry mouth.
- Defecate with blood.
Symptoms in infants and children to watch out for and should get immediate medical attention are:
- Looks lethargic.
- Diarrhea with blood.
- Feeling very sick or uncomfortable.
- Dehydration (marked by frequent urination and decreased urine volume, crying without tears, and dry mouth).
Causes of gastroenteritis
There are various viruses that can cause gastroenteritis. The two most common types of viruses are:
- Rotavirus. These infectious viruses tend to infect infants and children, as they often insert fingers or contaminated objects into the mouth. Adults who are infected with this virus may not feel any symptoms, but they can still pass on to small children and infants.
- Norovirus. This virus is highly contagious and can infect anyone, both adults and children. Most cases of food poisoning that occur worldwide are caused by norovirus. The spread of this virus usually occurs in several places, such as school classrooms, campus halls, dormitories, child care, and general treatment rooms. Contaminated food and water become the main medium of virus spread. In addition, the virus can also spread through direct contact with infected individuals.
Gastroenteritis can also be caused by E. coli and salmonella bacteria. In many cases, salmonella and campylobacter bacteria are often the main causes of gastroenteritis. Usually these types of bacteria spread through mature poultry meat, eggs, and pets or live poultry.
Here are some groups of individuals who are at high risk of gastroenteritis, including:
- Little child. Children are more susceptible to viral infections because they do not have a strong immune system.
- School children and living in dormitories. This infection can be transmitted easily in places where there are many people gathered at close range.
- The elderly. The immune system in the elderly will decrease. These infections can easily be transmitted to the elderly if they live close to the person potentially spreading the germs.
- People with weak immune systems. People with certain medical conditions, such as HIV and chemotherapy, are at higher risk of contracting infections because their immunities are attacked by the conditions they suffer.
Diagnosis of Gastroenteritis
Doctors may be able to detect gastroenteritis from the symptoms experienced, as well as through physical examination. If necessary, the doctor may recommend a useful stool test to determine the type of organism responsible for gastroenteritis. In addition to viruses, gastroenteritis can also be caused by bacteria and parasites.
Treatment of gastroenteritis
The main purpose of treatment of gastroenteritis is to prevent the occurrence of dehydration. Therefore, patients are encouraged to drink plenty of water. If the dehydration is severe enough, the patient may need to be admitted to the hospital for fluid intravenously.
Oralite can be given to help rehydration. This drug contains electrolytes and minerals needed by the body. Although ORS can be bought freely in the market, be sure to always follow the rules of use written on the packaging. If necessary, ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Antibiotic medicines are not effective against viruses. In addition, do not give aspirin to relieve symptoms of pain in patients who are under the age of 16 years. To help relieve symptoms of gastroenteritis, do some of the following tips at home:
- Try to always drink more fluids. If you have trouble drinking directly from a glass, use a straw. Avoid eating fruit juice because this drink can actually increase the symptoms of diarrhea experienced.
- Consumption of foods in small amounts and easily digested, such as bananas, porridge, and fish. It aims to provide recovery time for your stomach. Stop eating if the nausea begins to feel again.
- Use more time to rest.
- Children and adults can consume energy drinks to replace electrolytes in the body. Oralit is also highly recommended for treating infants and children. Avoid ice cream or soft drinks because it can aggravate diarrhea in children.
In patients with children, gastroenteritis should be treated as early as possible because the disease contributes to mortality in children who are quite high in Indonesia. Symptoms to watch out for include easy drowsiness, lips and mouth becomes dry, their hands and feet are also cold. If that happens to your child, rush to the hospital for the best treatment.
The doctor will provide fluid intake to your child with nasograstic or NG tube, which is a tube inserted through the nose to the abdomen. The fluid intake can also be administered to your child directly with intravenous therapy injected through the blood vessels.
You can also perform self-care by administering fluids to infants, 15-20 minutes after they experience vomiting or diarrhea. This time lag is required for the baby’s stomach to rest for a moment. Breast milk can be given to a baby if he is still breastfed. In addition to breast milk, oral acid or formula can also be given if the baby can drink from the bottle.
Prevention of gastroenteritis
Here are some ways you can do to prevent the occurrence of intestinal infection:
- Washing hands. Wash the whole hand (including the sidelines of the nail) to clean. Use soap, then rub your hands for about 20 seconds, and rinse with clean water. If there is no soap and water, use a cleaning wipes or hand sanitizer.
- Always wear personal equipment. It is advisable to use your own cutlery and drinkware, such as cups, plates, spoons, and forks. Avoid wearing cutlery alternately with others. Make sure every family member has a separate towel.
- Keep the distance. If you are forced to make contact with a person infected with gastroenteritis, try to keep a distance from it. Do not touch items used by an infected person.
- Cleaning stuff. Clean items, places, and also surfaces touched by an infected person. Objects such as table surfaces, faucets, door handles, spoons, forks, and other equipment used by gastroenteritis patients living with you can be a medium of transmission of the virus.
- Rotavirus vaccine. This vaccine is given to prevent diarrhea due to rotavirus. There are two types of rotavirus vaccine spread in Indonesia, namely rotateq and rotarix. Rotateq is given three doses at 6-14 weeks, 4-8 weeks later, and 8 months of age. While rotarix is given two doses at the age of 10 weeks and 14 weeks (6 months).
In addition to some of the above efforts, there are some things you can consider to prevent gastroenteritis. If you are traveling or in a public place, you should be careful in choosing foods and beverages that you consume. Here are some things to avoid:
- Avoid eating raw foods, either vegetables or fruits that have been peeled or touched by the hands of others.
- Do not eat meat that is not cooked well.
- Buy bottled water to avoid consuming contaminated water. Including when you brush your teeth, it is advisable to keep using bottled water.
- Avoid consuming ice cubes that cleanliness is not guaranteed, because it could be water used to make ice is contaminated by the virus.