Gastroenteritis (also called gastro) is a common condition. According to statistics, 1 in every 5 people in the United Kingdom will develop gastroenteritis every year. However, most people will experience mild gastroenteritis that does not need medical attention. Nevertheless, most people who have developed this condition will show the following symptoms:
- Vomiting is another key sign
- Blood and mucus in the stool
- Abdominal pain
- Fever, headaches, and aching limbs.
Vomiting will last for a day, but it can sometimes last a little bit longer. Diarrhea will often continue even if you have stopped vomiting. It will usually last for a couple of days before going away. The loose stools will persist for about 7 days or so before everything returns to normal. Remember, some symptoms can last longer.
Symptoms related to lack of enough fluid in your body (dehydration)
Diarrhea and vomiting will usually lead to dehydration. It is, therefore, important to consult your doctor as soon as possible if you think you’re feeling dehydrated. However, mild dehydration can be reversed by taking a lot of fluids.
The symptoms of dehydration include:
- Feeling extremely tired
- Feeling dizzy
- Severe headache
- Some muscular cramps
- Sunken eyes
- Passing a small amount of urine
- Your mouth and tongue will feel dry
- You might also feel weak
- You might become irritable
The following are the symptoms of severe dehydration:
- Feeling very weak
- Feeling confused
- A rapid heart rate
- Coma can set in
- Producing little urine
It is vital to seek immediate medical attention for severe dehydration because it can have grave consequences.
Who is at risk of experiencing severe dehydration?
Dehydration is common in the following groups of people: the elderly and frail people, expectant mothers, and people experiencing severe diarrhea and vomiting.
When should an adult with gastroenteritis see the doctor?
An adult suffering from this condition should see a doctor if he/she is unable to keep fluids down for twenty-four hours, has been vomiting for 2+ days, has blood in vomit, and is dehydrated. The sick person should watch the signs of dehydration such as excessive thirst, a very dry mouth, deep yellowish urine, little urine, severe weakness, and dizziness. He/she should also notice blood in bowel movements and experiences fever that is above 40 degrees.
When should you see a doctor (for infants as well as children)?
You should immediately call the doctor if your child experiences a fever that is over 38.9 degrees, your child seems lethargic and very irritable, your child experiences a lot of discomfort and pain, you discover blood in your child’s stool, and if your child seems dehydrated.
Can you prevent gastroenteritis?
You can prevent gastroenteritis through proper storage and preparation of food. Moreover, proper hygiene can help in preventing gastroenteritis. In particular, you are advised to wash your hands after visiting the toilet. You also have to wash your hands after handling raw food and meat, after gardening, and after playing with your pets since pets have bacteria that can make you develop gastroenteritis.
It is also important to take extra caution if you are visiting countries with poor sanitation standards. For instance, you should avoid unsafe water and drinks on the streets.