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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of gastroenteritis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of gastroenteritis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of gastroenteritis

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of gastroenteritis

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Gastroenteritis, as the name suggests, is  inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach and intestines. This results from bacterial or the viral infection of the digestive tract. An inflamed digestive tract leads to diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. This infection may vary from mild to severe, depending upon the offending agent and the immune system of the individual.

Incidence, age and sex

Gastroenteritis is a fairly common gastro-intestinal condition encountered in the general population. It may be seen in any age group including infants, children and adults. However, it is more common in young children and older adults.

Signs and symptoms

The clinical features of gastroenteritis may vary among individuals and usually depend upon the causative factor. However, the most common signs and symptoms are increased frequency of stools which are usually loose in consistency. This may be accompanied with nausea or vomiting. An affected individual may also complain of intense abdominal cramps along with fever and chills. Other associated features include loss of appetite, weakness or a sensation of abdominal bloating. Bacterial gastroenteritis may last for days and usually requires medications for its effective treatment. On the other hand, viral gastroenteritis may vary in duration and is self-limiting in most individuals.

The gastroenterologist would like to take a detailed history and conduct a comprehensive physical examination to establish the diagnosis. However, certain tests may be advised to detect the causative organism. Standard blood tests may reveal increased white blood cell count which is an indication of bacterial infection.

Causes and prevention

The most common cause of gastroenteritis is infection which may be bacterial, viral or parasitic in origin. Bacterial gastroenteritis is more frequently encountered than viral or parasitic gastroenteritis. Other less common causes of gastroenteritis include chemicals and toxins like poisonous sea food, heavy metal poisoning or even drugs.

Gastroenteritis can be prevented by maintaining adequate hygiene measures and avoidance of consuming uncooked food without washing. Infectious gastroenteritis may spread from person to person through direct or indirect contact with infected faeces. Therefore regular hand washing before eating food is must in preventing gastro-intestinal infections.

Complications

Gastroenteritis leads to extensive fluid loss, which may result in dehydration which is evident by dry skin, sunken eyes and palpitations. Other features of dehydration include excess thirst, markedly decreased urination and lethargy and mental confusion in later stage. Dehydration is generally not grave until and unless it is encountered in young children and elderly individuals in whom it may be potentially fatal, if not treated urgently.

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

Get a quote for gastroenteritis treatment >

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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of gastroenteritis

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