Viral gastroenteritis is an infection of the stomach which can affect both adults and children. It is commonly known as stomach flu. There are several types of viruses that can cause this condition, including astrovirus, enteric adenovirus, norovirus, and rotavirus.
The viruses can be contracted in contaminated drinking water and food.
Patients that have higher risks in contracting the infection include young children, the elderly and those that have low and suppressed immune systems due to certain ailments. Generally, the infection will go away on its own but can cause severe illness due to dehydration.
Symptoms of Viral Gastroenteritis
Pain in the abdominal area coupled with cramping.
Watery and non-bloody diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea generally indicates a more serious kind of infection.
Nausea or vomiting or both at the same time.
Low grade fever
Chills and heavy sweating
Stiffness of the joints which often hinders proper movement.
Pain in the muscles which can cause aches all over the body
Stool leakage or incontinence
Poor feeding or loss of appetite
In rare and severe cases, patients my vomit blood, feel dizzy, and faint.
Sudden weight loss caused by diarrhea and poor feeding.
Dehydration symptoms which include sticky or dry mouth, lethargy, low blood pressure, urine that is concentrated and very yellow, difficulty in passing urine, and sunken eyes. Additional symptoms for infants include sunken fontanels or soft spots on the head, exhibiting no tears when crying, has no wet diaper within six hours, very irritable, and is unusually very sleepy and unresponsive.
What are the Treatments for Viral Gastroenteritis
It is best to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting, especially in babies and young children. Below are some of the ways that this can be done.
- Adults and older children can drink sports beverages that contain a lot of electrolytes. For younger children, fluid replacement mixtures and freezer pops can be given which can be found in many drug stores.
- Beverages that are loaded with sugar like fruit juices and sodas should not be taken since these can promote diarrhea and will not replace minerals that have been lost.
- It is better to drink small amounts of fluid several times per day than taking in large amounts at one time.
- Formula or breast milk should be continued along with other fluids.
- Foods that are recommended and should be taken in small amounts include cereals, lean meat, potatoes, bananas, fresh apples, plain yogurt, and vegetables.
- Patients that have difficulties in taking in fluids due to nausea will need intravenous fluids.
- Drugs should not be administered, especially in small children, without any approval from the doctor.