Viral Gastroenteritis


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Have you ever had
the "stomach flu?" What you probably had was gastroenteritis - not a
type of flu at all. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the
intestines caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites. Viral gastroenteritis is
the second most common illness in the U.S. It spreads through contaminated food
or water, and contact with an infected person. The best prevention is frequent
hand washing.

Symptoms of
gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever
and chills. Most people recover with no treatment.

The most common
problem with gastroenteritis is dehydration. This happens if you do not drink
enough fluids to replace what you lose through vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration
is most common in babies, young children, the elderly and people with weak
immune systems.

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Viral Gastroenteritis

  1. 1. EducationHealth TopicsViral Gastroenteritis
  2. 2. 1OverviewHave you ever hadthe "stomach flu?" What you probably had wasgastroenteritis - not atype of flu at all. Gastroenteritis is an inflammationof the lining of the
  3. 3. 2Overviewintestines caused by a virus, bacteria or parasites.Viral gastroenteritis isthe second most common illness in the U.S. Itspreads through contaminated foodor water, and contact with an infected person. Thebest prevention is frequenthand washing.
  4. 4. 3OverviewSymptoms ofgastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal pain,vomiting, headache, feverand chills. Most people recover with no treatment.The most common
  5. 5. 4Overviewproblem with gastroenteritis is dehydration. Thishappens if you do not drinkenough fluids to replace what you lose throughvomiting and diarrhea. Dehydrationis most common in babies, young children, theelderly and people with weakimmune systems.
  6. 6. 5SymptomsSymptoms most often appear within 4 to 48hours after contact with the contaminated food orwater, and include:-- Abdominal pain-- Diarrhea
  7. 7. 6Symptoms-- Nausea andvomitingOther symptoms may include:-- Chills, clammyskin, or sweating-- Fever
  8. 8. 7Symptoms-- Joint stiffnessor muscle pain-- Poor feeding-- Weight loss
  9. 9. 8DiagnosisThe health care provider will look forsigns of dehydration,including:-- Dry or stickymouth
  10. 10. 9Diagnosis-- Lethargy or coma(severe dehydration)-- Low bloodpressure-- Low or no urine
  11. 11. 10Diagnosisoutput; concentrated urine that looks dark yellow-- Markedly sunkensoft spots (fontanelles) on the top of an infantshead-- No tears-- Sunken eyes
  12. 12. 11DiagnosisTests that examine stool samples may be usedto identify which virus is causing the sickness. Thisis usually not needed forviral gastroenteritis. A stool culture may be done tofind out whether diarrheaare causing the problem.
  13. 13. 12TreatmentThe goal of treatment is to preventdehydration by making sure the body has enoughwater and fluids. Fluids andelectrolytes (salt and minerals) that are lostthrough diarrhea or vomiting must
  14. 14. 13Treatmentbe replaced by drinking extra fluids. Even if you areable to eat, you shouldstill drink extra fluids between meals.-- Older childrenand adults can drink sports beverages such asGatorade, but these should not be
  15. 15. 14Treatmentused for younger children. Instead, use theelectrolyte and fluidreplacement solutions or freezer pops available infood and drug stores.-- Do NOT use fruitjuice (including apple juice), sodas or cola (flat orbubbly), Jell-O, or
  16. 16. 15Treatmentbroth. All of these have a lot of sugar, which makesdiarrhea worse, and theydont replace lost minerals.-- Drink smallamounts of fluid (2-4 oz.) every 30-60 minutes. Donot try to force large
  17. 17. 16Treatmentamounts of fluid at one time, which can causevomiting. Use a teaspoon orsyringe for an infant or small child.-- Breast milk or formulacan be continued along with extra fluids. You doNOT need to switch to a soy
  18. 18. 17Treatmentformula.Food may be offered often in smallamounts. Suggested foods include:-- Cereals, bread,potatoes, lean meats
  19. 19. 18Treatment-- Plain yogurt,bananas, fresh apples-- VegetablesPeople with diarrhea who are unable to drinkfluids because of nausea may need intravenous(directly into a vein) fluids.
  20. 20. 19TreatmentThis is especially true in small children.Antibiotics do not work for viruses.Drugs to slow down the amount of diarrhea(anti-diarrheal medications) should not be givenwithout first talking with
  21. 21. 20Treatmentyour health care provider. DO NOT give these anti-diarrheal medications tochildren unless directed to do so by a health careprovider.People taking water pills (diuretics) whodevelop diarrhea may be told by their health careprovider to stop taking the
  22. 22. 21Treatmentdiuretic during the acuteepisode. However, DO NOT stop taking anyprescription medicine without firsttalking to your health care provider.The risk of dehydration is greatest in
  23. 23. 22Treatmentinfants and young children, so parents shouldclosely monitor the number of wetdiapers changed per day when their child is sick.You can buy medicines at the drugstore thatcan help stop or slow diarrhea.
  24. 24. 23Treatment-- Do not use thesemedicines without talking to your health careprovider if you have bloodydiarrhea, a fever, or if the diarrhea is severe.-- Do not give thesemedicines to children.
  25. 25. 24TreatmentThe illness usually runs its course in a fewdays without treatment.Children may become severely ill fromdehydration caused by diarrhea.People with the highest risk for severe
  26. 26. 25Treatmentgastroenteritis include young children, the elderly,and people who have asuppressed immune system.
  27. 27. 26CausesGastroenteritis can affect one person or agroup of people who all ate the same food ordrank the same water. The germsmay get into the food you eat (calledcontamination) in different ways.
  28. 28. 27CausesViral gastroenteritis is a leading cause ofsevere diarrhea in both adults and children. Manytypes of viruses can causegastroenteritis. The most common ones are:-- Norovirus
  29. 29. 28Causes(or Norwalk-like virus) is common among school-age children. It may also causeoutbreaks in hospitals and on cruise ships.-- Rotavirusis the leading cause of severe gastroenteritis inchildren. It can also
  30. 30. 29Causesinfect adults who are exposed to children with thevirus, and people living innursing homes.-- Astrovirus-- Entericadenovirus
  31. 31. 30CausesRotavirus causes severe gastroenteritis ininfants and young children. Severe dehydrationand death can occur in this age group. Call yourhealth care provider ifdiarrhea lasts for more than several days or ifdehydration occurs. You
  32. 32. 31Causesshould also contact your health care provider ifyou or your childhas these symptoms:-- Blood in thestool-- Confusion
  33. 33. 32Causes-- Dizziness-- Dry mouth-- Feeling faint-- Nausea-- No tears whencrying
  34. 34. 33Causes-- No urine for 8 hours or more-- Sunken appearanceto the eyes-- Sunken soft spoton an infants head (fontanelle)
  35. 35. 34PreventionMost viruses and bacteria are passedfrom person to person by unwashed hands. Thebest way to prevent viralgastroenteritis is to handle food properly and washyour hands thoroughly after
  36. 36. 35Preventionusing the toilet.Vaccination to prevent severe rotavirusinfection is recommended for infants starting atage 2 months.