Gastroenteritis is an infection which inflames the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. It can affect all age groups, but most commonly the under-fives.

In this article:

What is gastroenteritis?

Diagnosis

How Chemist Online can help

Symptoms

Effect on your life

Advice & Support

Causes

Treatment

What is gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is an infection of the gut (intestines) and is highly contagious. The infection can be caused by many different types of virus, bacteria and other microbes (germs).

In most cases gastroenteritis clears over a few days, but it can sometimes take longer.

Symptoms
Symptoms of gastroenteritis include:

diarrhoea

vomiting

high temperature

headaches

stomach ache and cramps

lethargy and drowsiness, and

dehydration (a lack of fluid in the body)

Note: If you are becoming dehydrated, contact your doctor immediately as a lack of fluid to organs in the body can be extremely dangerous.

Babies with gastroenteritis will usually refuse feeds, and older children will experience a loss of appetite through developing the condition.

Complications of gastroenteritis include malnutrition and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Causes
The infection which causes gastroenteritis is usually transmitted through:

contaminated food and/or drink (food poisoning – the most common cause of gastroenteritis)

food prepared by an infected person

coming into contact with an infected person

poor personal hygiene

parasites (usually while travelling abroad in less developed countries than the UK), and

some food allergies

In countries with poor sanitation, gastroenteritis can be contracted through drinking from a water supply contaminated by germs or bacteria.

Note: Where viral infections occur, these can be seasonal and include viruses such as rotavirus and norovirus.

Diagnosis
If you are experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, then you may not need to make an appointment with your GP as most cases of can be treated at home. Drink plenty of fluids. Continue to eat normally (but avoid fatty foods or sugary drinks), and rest as much as possible.

However, if your pain is not responding to painkillers; you have blood or mucus in your diarrhoea; and/or you can’t keep down the medicines you normally take, then seek medical help.

Effect on your life
Depending upon the severity of your condition, you will suffer a mild tummy upset for a day or two with mild diarrhoea, or severe diarrhoea and vomiting for several days or longer.

You may find that you pass little urine during the period of your infection. Where dehydration occurs, you may experience apathy, confusion and, in severe cases of dehydration, you may even fall into a coma. This is why drinking plenty of fluids is so important.

Treatment
There is no vaccine for the gastroenteritis virus.

Drink plenty of fluids (this is particularly important for children and the elderly) as it is essential that you replace the water, salts and sugars that are lost through diarrhoea and vomiting. Try water and fruit juices. If these do not prove sufficient then a good alternative is oral rehydration salts.

Always wash your hands with soap and water after a bowel movement or any contact with faeces (particularly before your hands go anywhere near the mouth). Keep your toilet as clean as possible. Also clean up all vomit from things like chairs and curtains, and then wash your hands.

If you are the person in the house that prepares food for your family, then stop doing so for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have cleared up.

How Chemist Online can help
Through this website we have a range of treatments for diarrhoea available to buy, including Imodium, the world's leading anti-diarrhoeal which provides fast and effective relief (often in just one dose) from diarrhoea and associated abdominal discomfort, including bloating, pressure and cramps commonly referred to as gas.

We also have available rehydration treatments such as Electrolade Sachets (Multiflavour) which is an oral rehydration treatment that replaces fluids and minerals lost in acute diarrhoea.

To help relieve aches and pains of gastroenteritis we have available Ibuprofen 400mg Tablets which can also reduce feverishness. You can also buy Paracetamol Soluble Tablets from us, which provide fast, effective relief from abdominal pain.

www.chemistonline.co.uk

Advice & Support
Core
Tel: 020 7486 0341
E-mail: info@corecharity.org.uk
Website: http://www.corecharity.org.uk/

The Gut Trust
Helpline: 0114 272 3253
E-mail: info@theguttrust.org
Website: www.theguttrust.org

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