According to Growtheology, stomach flu, gastrointestinal infection, or gastroenteritis is an infection or disease of the gastrointestinal tract. It is usually triggered by bacteria or viruses and often occurs in children, who often ingest the germs orally through their environment.
What is Stomach Flu?
Many people know gastroenteritis under the term gastrointestinal flu. This generally refers to an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The first signs of this are vomiting and/or diarrhea. There are various reasons for this.
This type of disease can be treated with symptomatic therapy. Hygienic measures in particular help to prevent you from getting gastroenteritis.
Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, especially after moving about in public places, is a simple preventive measure.
The most common causes of gastroenteritis are viruses, bacteria or protozoa (protozoa). How the symptoms develop from the infection is quite different. As a rule, the pathogens destroy the mucous membrane to varying degrees. The problem that arises from this is that the gastrointestinal tract no longer digests the newly ingested food.
As a result, the undigested food binds water and the stool becomes thin. In some types of gastro-intestinal flu, bacterial toxins (so-called toxins) are produced, which lead to increased water and salt loss through the mucous membrane cells of the intestine. Bacterial toxins can enter the body through spoiled food. In the case of gastroenteritis, this can lead to inflammation of the stomach lining. The result is the “classic” food poisoning.
Drugs are another way of contracting “toxic gastroenteritis”. Another physical cause can be the illness caused by ionizing radiation. Cancer treatment is an example. The gastric or intestinal mucosa is damaged to such an extent that it can no longer perform its digestive function.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
In the case of gastroenteritis, the first symptoms and symptoms appear within a few hours. The severity and severity depend, among other things, on the type of pathogen and the physical condition of the patient. Typically, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps occur. Some sufferers vomit several times an hour, often through the nose.
In extreme cases, the vomit can get stuck in the airways and cause pneumonia. The diarrhea usually appears slimy and light-colored, in severe cases of gastroenteritis it is very watery. In addition, there is usually abdominal pain, which occurs at intervals and initially subsides after going to the toilet. These gastrointestinal symptoms are accompanied by general signs of illness.
Colds and flu-like infections often result in fever, headaches, body aches and fatigue. Sometimes these symptoms appear before the vomiting diarrhea, in other cases they appear at the same time. In severe cases, a stomach flu can cause dehydration, nerve disorders, or intestinal obstruction. Inflammation of the large intestine is also possible during the course of a gastroenteritis. In some patients, the disease is completely symptom-free and subsides after a few days without major symptoms.
course of the disease
Gastrointestinal flu is usually transmitted by faecal-oral smear infection. Improperly washing hands is enough to allow infectious stool to get into food, which in turn can pass through the mouth and into the next patient’s gastrointestinal tract. Salmonella is also transmitted in this way. Of course, the longer the “enriched” food is stored, the more the pathogens have the opportunity to multiply.
In the case of noroviruses, on the other hand, it is sufficient to be in the vicinity of a patient who is vomiting torrentially. Droplets containing the pathogen can “float” in the air and be ingested by bystanders, who then also contract gastrointestinal flu. The incubation period (duration), i.e. the time that elapses from the ingestion of the pathogen to the signs of the first symptoms, is between 4 and 48 hours.
Onset is loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting as the virus travels from top to bottom. If these signs subside, the diarrhea will follow. Gastrointestinal flu can also be accompanied by fever, as is usually the case with viral diseases.
In most cases, gastrointestinal flu does not lead to any particular complications or serious symptoms. Most flus can be treated relatively well with home remedies. Treatment by and with the help of medication is only necessary in serious cases.
As a rule, complications can occur if the gastrointestinal flu is not treated and the person concerned sticks to their diet and does not take it easy on their stomach. This leads to diarrhea or vomiting. Not infrequently, those affected also suffer from flatulence and a general feeling of illness. The patient becomes exhausted and tired, so that everyday life is significantly restricted. Those affected with gastrointestinal flu usually have to go to the toilet often and can no longer hold their stool.
This results in restrictions in everyday working life. Treatment of gastrointestinal flu does not lead to complications. With the help of medication, the triggering bacteria can be treated so that the symptoms of the flu can be reduced again relatively quickly. However, the patient must avoid contact with other people in order not to infect them. Life expectancy is usually not reduced by gastrointestinal flu.
When should you go to the doctor?
In the case of irregularities in the gastrointestinal area, a doctor should always be consulted. If there is an increase in existing symptoms within a short period of time, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. The gastrointestinal flu is subject to a high risk of infection, so caution is required when dealing with other people. In addition, the pathogens spread in the organism within a few hours and contribute to a rapid deterioration in the state of health.
If there are noises in the stomach or intestines, flatulence or pain, the affected person needs medication. See a doctor if you have diarrhea, loss of sphincter control, or abdominal cramps. A drop in the usual level of performance, fatigue and an inner weakness are indications that should be followed up. If signs such as fever, sweating or increased irritability occur, the complaints should be clarified by a doctor.
Consultation with a doctor is necessary in the case of behavioral problems, a general loss of strength, exhaustion, increased tiredness and sleep disorders. If you have a loss of appetite, headaches, body aches, nausea and vomiting, you need to see a doctor. Diarrhea with vomiting, a feeling of dryness inside the body, an increased need for liquid intake or an intestinal blockage are reasons for a doctor’s visit.
Treatment & Therapy
As already mentioned, the treatment of gastroenteritis consists of symptomatic measures. The first thing to do is to compensate for the loss of water and salt. There are also glucose-salt mixtures (so-called rehydration solutions). If this administration does not help in the case of gastrointestinal flu, the patient must be given an infusion.
In addition, a slow diet can rebuild the damaged mucosa. Attention should be paid to easily digestible carbohydrates, such as those found in rusks, white bread or pretzel sticks. The previously recommended food break is of no use, since the corresponding organ is only shut down and has no incentive to resume its activity.
Another option is the administration of a probiotic: freeze-dried, natural intestinal colonizers that reduce vomiting and influence bowel movements. However, special attention should be paid to the side effects.
Outlook & Forecast
The prospects for gastrointestinal flu are good. The disease is considered harmless. There is usually no risk of death. Even patients who do not consult a doctor recover after two to six days. Drugs are not necessary for this. Rest and unsweetened herbal teas are enough. The elderly and small children are considered to be at risk. They sometimes have to have an IV to compensate for the loss of fluid and salt.
If the symptoms include an elevated temperature and blood in the stool, a doctor’s visit is essential. This also applies if the signs have been present for more than three days without improvement. In this case, the body’s own defenses cannot fight the pathogens themselves. The doctor can support the healing process with appropriate medication. In this case, too, the recovery is usually uncomplicated.
It should be noted that people who have recovered from gastrointestinal flu carry the pathogens with them for another week or two. They are excreted during bowel movements. Their amount decreases with each excretion. However, there tends to be a risk of infection for other people who use the same sanitary facilities. The risk of transmission can be minimized by adequate hygiene.
The flu is a serious illness, but in many cases it heals without complications. Nevertheless, consistent follow-up care is required to avoid recurrence of the disease or superinfection with bacteria. Follow-up care is initiated and, if necessary, monitored by the attending physician, usually the general practitioner.
In particular, patients with serious or chronic comorbidities, pregnant women, people with weak immune systems, the elderly and small children should follow their doctor’s aftercare instructions. Then, complete abatement of the gastroenteritis without relapses can be realized to a large extent. Healthy lifestyle and rest are the two factors on which follow-up care is based.
First and foremost, this means not putting strain on the body too early. Sport may only be practiced after consultation with the doctor, so as not to subject the cardiovascular system to great stress too early. The immune system also needs time to rest in order to be able to regenerate in the long term. Adequate drinking serves to stabilize the circulatory system and to compensate for fluid loss through sweating in the event of a fever.
A healthy diet also stabilizes the immune system of the body, which is often severely weakened by gastrointestinal flu. The effects of cold should be avoided during the aftercare period. In this context, cold feet are just as unfavorable as drafts. Sufficient sleep also helps the body to regenerate.
You can do that yourself
In the case of gastrointestinal flu, especially in connection with fever, it is necessary that the sick person does not leave the house and, if possible, stays in bed. Firstly, the risk of infecting others is then averted and secondly, this is the fastest way to cure the disease. A hot -water bottle placed on the stomach has a beneficial effect and calms the stomach and intestines. A light over-the-counter pain reliever will help you feel better faster. If the affected person still feels very tired and does not want to lower the fever, cold calf wraps can be helpful. For this purpose, wet towels are placed around the calves and regularly exchanged. The cold quickly causes the body temperature to drop.
Light foods such as clear broth and rusks do not put too much strain on the gastrointestinal tract so that this area can recover quickly and the patient can recover quickly. It is absolutely essential that he drinks a lot to regulate his fluid balance. Herbal teas made from chamomile or peppermint as well as mineral water or apple juice spritzer should be chosen here.
If the symptoms of the gastrointestinal flu have not subsided after a week, it would be advisable for the sick person to consult the doctor in order to rule out other causes and possibly have special medication prescribed.