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Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu) (cont.)

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When should I call my doctor for gastroenteritis?

If gastroenteritis symptoms last more than about 5 days, increase in severity (fever of 101 F or 38.33 C or higher), or bloody diarrhea develops, dehydration, constant abdominal pain or other symptoms, a patient should see a physician. The patient may have some gastroenteritis symptoms but may have a disease more serious than self-limiting gastroenteritis. Signs and symptoms of dehydration may include decreased or no urine production, dry mucus membranes, dry mouth or skin, no tears, weakness, lightheadedness and low blood pressure, while children may show little or no urination, become lethargic, have skin that "tents up" when pinched. Signs of dehydration in anyone are good reasons to see a doctor immediately.

What are complications of gastroenteritis?

Most patients who get gastroenteritis have no complications and will completely recover. The major complication for some patients is dehydration; infants, children, the elderly and immunosuppressed are at higher risk for this complication. In many third world countries, hydration of infants is difficult at best so there are many infant deaths worldwide due to dehydration caused by gastroenteritis.

Can gastroenteritis be prevented?

In general, there are some actions people can do to prevent or reduce the chance of getting gastroenteritis, including:

  • Hand washing, especially before eating and after any close association with an infected person or items (clothing, bedding, toys) they have touched
  • Launder items daily that infected persons wear
  • Avoid direct contact with infected individuals when possible
  • Do not eat undercooked foods, especially meats
  • Do not eat or drink raw foods or untreated water
  • Do not drink untreated or unpasteurized fluids, especially milk
  • Thoroughly wash any produce, especially in third world countries, before eating
  • While traveling, avoid all raw foods and ice; drink only from sealed bottled products and use bottled water for tooth brushing

In addition, there is a vaccine available against rotavirus that has reduced this infection in children. Also, there is a vaccine available against cholera-causing bacteria (Vibrio), but it is not widely available. Research is ongoing; in 2013 a clinical trial of a Norovirus vaccine was done with some success. It is likely in the near future commercial vaccines against some causes will be available.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/31/2013

Patient Comments

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Gastroenteritis - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you have with gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?
Gastroenteritis - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with gastroenteritis (stomach flu).
Gastroenteritis - Cause Question: Do you know what virus, bacteria, or parasite caused your case of gastroenteritis (cruise ship, traveling by plane, traveling to another country, from a family member or friend?)
Gastroenteritis - Treatment Question: What treatments were effective for your case of gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis - Call for Medical Help Question: Did you have to call your doctor to treat your case of gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis - Complications Question: Please describe the complications you suffered due to gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis - Diagnosed Question: How was your case of gastroenteritis diagnosed?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/gastroenteritis_stomach_flu/article.htm

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