Viral gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, is a condition that is distinguished by the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which can involve the stomach and the small intestine. This may result in the individual experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping. Most children experience this condition as a result of the rotavirus. However, adults tend to experience gastroenteritis as a result of norovirus and campylobacter. Some of the less common causes of the infection can be due to parasites and toxins. Generally the condition is transmitted by having consumed foods that have been prepared incorrectly, water that has been contaminated, or individuals who are currently contaminated as well. The best way to manage gastroenteritis is to ensure that the individual has adequate hydration. Since there is a chance of large amounts of vomiting, it is very easy for individuals to become dehydrated during their time spent infected with this condition. Usually the infection affects children and those who are living in developing countries.
The symptoms associated with gastroenteritis tend to vary depending on the overall severity of the infection. Individuals will usually experience vomiting and diarrhea, although there are other possibilities. It is unlikely to have one symptom without the other. Some people experience abdominal cramping, fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and bloody stools. When a stool is bloody, it’s less likely that the individual is experiencing viral gastroenteritis, but a different form of gastroenteritis instead. The symptoms usually will occur within 12 to 72 hours of contracting the infection itself. Children who have contracted this from the rotavirus will generally feel better after around three to eight days. Some adults are known to recover more quickly if they are taking medication or just monitoring the infection as needed. One of the most common complications of this condition is dehydration and doctors recommend that children and adults should be having a regular intake of fluids.
Generally speaking, gastroenteritis is a condition that is self-limiting and does not really require treatment by medication. However, some treatments are provided to help individuals deal with the symptoms until the infection has subsided. The largest focus is on ensuring that the individual remains hydrated. Dietary impact is also fairly important; individuals will have to eat various types of foods recommended by their doctor to help deal with the diarrhea and other symptoms. In most cases, antibiotics are not used during this time because they are not needed for gastroenteritis, although they may be an option if the symptoms are not disappearing or are just too problematic for the individual.