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GASTRO HEALTH

When you have diarrhea and vomiting, you may say you have the "stomach flu." These symptoms often are due to a condition called gastroenteritis. With gastroenteritis, your stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed. The cause is typically a vi...Read More

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When you have diarrhea and vomiting, you may say you have the "stomach flu." These symptoms often are due to a condition called gastroenteritis. With gastroenteritis, your stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed. The cause is typically a viral or bacterial infection.

What causes Gastroenteritis?

The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a virus. Gastroenteritis flu can be caused by many different kinds of viruses. The main types are rotavirus and norovirus. Rotavirus is the world's most common cause of diarrhea in infants and young children. In U.S. Norovirus are the most common cause of foodborne diseases and serious gastroenteritis.

Although not as common, bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli can also trigger the stomach flu. Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria are the most common bacterial causes of gastroenteritis in the U.S. and are usually spread by undercooked poultry, eggs, or poultry juices. Salmonella can also be spread through pet reptiles or live poultry. There are many ways gastroenteritis problems can be spread:

  • Contaminated food or water
  • Contact with someone who has the virus
  • Unwashed hands after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper

 

Prevention:

Four key components to avoid food poisoning include:

  • Cook
  • Separate
  • Chill
  • Clean

When cooking, ensure adequate heating time at the proper temperature to kill any bacteria that could cause gastroenteritis. It is helpful to use a thermometer to test cooked meat and to ensure egg yolks are firm. Separating foods is recommended so as to avoid cross-contamination. In particular, it is important to keep raw meat apart from other foods.

Chilling foods for storage slows down the growth of harmful bacteria.

The best way to reduce the risk of gastroenteritis is to wash hands frequently, wash hands before eating or touching the mouth and wash hands after handling raw meat or eggs.

 

Symptoms:

With gastroenteritis, watery diarrhea and vomiting are the main symptoms you probably would be facing. You might also have stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and a headache. Because of diarrhea and vomiting, you also can become dehydrated. Watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry skin and a dry mouth, feeling lightheaded, and being really thirsty. Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

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