Saturday, October 23, 2010

Do you really need a doctor visit for gastroenteritis?

Most of us might have encountered gastroenteritis once in our lifetime. Yes, this is a very common problem and affect millions of people in a year world wide. Although there are many possible causes for gastroenteritis ranging from viruses, bacteria, parasite and chemicals, but viral and bacterial causes are more predominant. You are more likely to get viral gastroenteritis if you eat or drink contaminated water or food, or share utensils, towels or food with infected person. By now, you already know that it is a contagious disease and can spread to other people.

I am sure some of you might have heard the term "stomach flu", this is just an alternative name for gastroenteritis. When you suffer from stomach flu, most likely you will develop watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, body aches and fever. Depending upon the severity of symptoms and amount of water and electrolyte loss, you may also develop signs of dehydration.

Good news is that most of the gastroenteritis are caused by viruses and typically antibiotics are not required. Even though you seem to develop a lot of symptoms in short time, but usually it does not last longer and the majority of people recover from it without any specific treatment.

In addition, you always need to know at what point you should consider doctor visit. There are many signs and symptoms but I will list some of them here for you: repeated vomiting for 48 hours, unable to drink liquid for 24 hours, fever greater than 104, blood in bowel movements, blood in vomitus, moderate to severe dehydration(dry mouth, increase thirst, yellow urine or decrease amount of urine, dizziness, lightheadedness, generalized weakness).

If you decide to visit your doctor, he/she may diagnose it based on your history, physical exam and test report. Generally, blood and stool tests are good enough to make final diagnosis. If the final conclusion is viral gastroenteritis, then all you need is rest, liquid and symptomatic treatment. Your doctor may suggest you to avoid eating and drinking for few hours to rest your stomach, encourage you to drink clear liquid, sprite, 7up, gatorade, and broths. After a while, you will start introducing soft diet and easy to digest food such as soda crackers, toast, gelatin, banana, rice and chicken. If you are a healthy person, then most likely you will recover form it without any complication in few days.

Thus, if you suffer from gastroenteritis symptoms don't panic, just follow the conservative measures and take rest. Try your best to maintain water and electrolyte balance to avoid dehydration. However, if you develop any alarming features stated above don't hesitate to see your doctor for proper evaluation and investigation. You can read more about it from this link, click here.

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