Gastroenteritis is a condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines (the gastrointestinal tract).
Diarrhea, crampy abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting are the most common symptoms.
Viral infection is the most common cause of gastroenteritis but bacteria, parasites, and food-borne illness can be the offending agent.
Many people who experience the vomiting and diarrhea that develop from these types of infections or irritations think they have food poisoning and they may indeed have a food-borne illness.
Many people also refer to gastroenteritis as stomach flu although influenza has nothing to do with the condition.
Travelers to foreign countries may experience traveler’s diarrhea from contaminated food and unclean water.
This is because foreign people take food that contains some of bacteria’s that their body system cannot withstand end up with illness.
It is important to mention that the severity of infectious gastroenteritis depends on the immune system’s ability to resist the infection.
Electrolytes that include essential elements of sodium and potassium may be lost as a person vomit and experience diarrhea.
Most people recover easily from a short bout with vomiting and diarrhea by drinking fluids and easing back into a normal diet.
But for others, such as infants and the elderly, loss of bodily fluid with gastroenteritis can cause dehydration, which is a life-threatening illness unless the condition is treated and fluids restored.
Bacteria may cause gastroenteritis directly by infecting the walls of the stomach and intestine.
As well, some bacteria such as the staphylococcus aureus can form a toxin that is the cause of symptoms. Staphylococcus is a common type of food poisoning.
Escherichia coli can cause significant problems, and one type of the bacteria, this bacterium can also affect kidney function and cause urinary tract infections.
Salmonella, shigella and campylobacter are also common causes of illness.
Salmonella the cause of typhoid fever is contracted from handling poultry or reptiles such as turtles that carry the germs.
Campylobacter from the consumption of under cooked meat and unpasteurized milk! Shigella typically spread from person to person.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of infection in children. Other viruses that cause gastrointestinal symptoms include: Adenoviruses, Parvovirus, and Astroviruses.
Parasites and protozoans
These tiny organisms are less frequently responsible for intestinal irritation. You may become infected by one of these by drinking contaminated water.
Swimming pools are common places to come in contact with these parasites.
Common parasites include; Girdiaisis bacteria, the most frequent cause of waterborne diarrhea and Cryptosporidium that affects mostly people with weakened immune systems and causes watery diarrhea.
With most infections, the key is to block the spread of the organism such as always wash your hands, eat properly prepared and stored food and bleach soiled laundry. Vaccinations for salmonella typhi, vibrio cholera, and rotavirus are recommended.
Upon seeking medical attention, if the patient cannot take fluids by mouth because of vomiting, the doctor may insert an IV to put fluid back into the body (rehydration).
In infants, depending upon the level of dehydration, intravenous fluids may be delayed to consider trying oral rehydration therapy.
Frequent feedings, as small as a 1/6 ounce (5cc) at a time, may be used to restore hydration.
Anti-biotics are also used as drugs to cover and fight against further bacterial invasion.