What is Viral Gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?
Viral Gastroenteritis is a condition in which your intestines become inflamed (irritated). Even though it is not restricted to influenza, it is commonly referred to as a “stomach bug” or “stomach flu.”
Although stomach pain is the most common symptom, gastroenteritis can also affect your small intestine and colon.
Viral Gastroenteritis or Stomach Flu: What Causes It?
Stomach flu is a common ailment. An digestive disturbance affects more than 20 million people in the United States each year. The most prevalent cause of stomach flu is viruses.
Adults are frequently infected with norovirus, while children are frequently infected with rotavirus. These viruses mostly affect the small intestinal lining.
The norovirus infects the stomach and intestines, causing inflammation. Acute gastroenteritis is the medical term for this condition.
Symptoms usually appear 12 to 48 hours after a person has been exposed to norovirus. The majority of persons who contract norovirus recover in 1 to 3 days.
You may feel really ill and vomit or have diarrhea several times per day if you have norovirus. This can cause dehydration, especially in small children, the elderly, and those who are unwell.
How can Stomach flu (Gastroenteritis) manifest itself?
Gastroenteritis is characterized by diarrhea as its most prominent symptom. Multiple actions from the virus cause diarrhea when the GI tract becomes infected during gastroenteritis.
Enterocytes, which are small cells in the gut, are destroyed, resulting in malabsorption. The virus can also cause secretory diarrhea, which causes loose, liquidy stools.
- Cramps or pain in the abdomen (belly).
- Vomiting and nausea.
- There is a headache and aches throughout the body.
Who gets Gastroenteritis (Stomach flu)?
The stomach flu can affect anyone at any time. However, if you live in an environment where a large number of individuals share living or dining spaces, such as:
- Children at a daycare center or a summer camp.
- Homes for the elderly.
- Dormitories are used by students.
- Personnel from the military.
- Psychiatric hospitals.
- Passengers on cruise ships.
- Travelers that want to visit developing countries.
- Anyone with a weakened immune system.
How Is Norovirus Widely spread?
Norovirus spreads swiftly and easily in a variety of ways.
Thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables.
1. Norovirus is transmitted by inadvertently ingesting microscopic particles of feces (poop) or vomit from an infected individual.
i. This can happen when you’re not careful.
ii. If you eat or drink norovirus-infected food or beverages, you could get sick.
iii. Have direct contact with someone who is infected with norovirus, such as by caring for them or sharing food or eating utensils with them, or touch surfaces or items contaminated with norovirus and then put your fingers in your mouth.
2. The norovirus is spread via contaminated food.
Because a small amount of virus particles is all it takes to get you sick, norovirus can quickly contaminate food and drink.
Norovirus can infect food and water in a variety of ways, including when:
i. An infected person touches food that has feces (poop) or vomit particles on it with their bare hands.
ii. Food is placed on a counter or surface that has been contaminated with feces or vomit particles.
iii. Vomit from an infected person is sprayed into the air and lands on the food.
iv. Food, such as oysters taken from contaminated water or fruit and vegetables irrigated with infected water in the field, is grown or harvested with contaminated water.
3. The norovirus is spread through contaminated water.
Norovirus can infect recreational or drinking water, making you sick or contaminating your food. This may occur:
I. When a septic tank overflows into a well, for example.
II. When an infected individual vomits or poops in the water, the water becomes contaminated.
III. When water isn’t adequately treated, such as when there isn’t enough chlorine,
4. Norovirus transmits from infected surfaces and sick humans.
Norovirus can infect surfaces in a variety of ways, including:
I. When an infected person touches a surface that has excrement or vomit particles on it with their bare hands, they become infected.
II. A person who is infected vomits or has diarrhea that splatters on surfaces.
Norovirus-infected food, water, or items are placed on surfaces.
III. Vomit splatters through the air, lands on surfaces, or enters a person’s mouth, where it is swallowed.
How to Avoid Getting the Stomach Flu
I. Maintain good hand hygiene.
Before eating, cooking, or handling food, and before giving yourself or someone else medicine, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Even before you feel ill, norovirus can be identified in your vomit or feces. After you feel better, the virus can linger in your feces for two weeks or longer. During this time, it’s critical to keep washing your hands frequently.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but they should not be used as a substitute for hand washing with soap and water.
Below are easy ways to prevent yourself from getting Gastroenteritis:
II. Safely handle and cook food
Before preparing and consuming fruits and vegetables, thoroughly wash them. Before eating oysters or other shellfish, be sure they’re completely cooked.
Noroviruses are heat resistant, so keep that in mind. They can withstand temperatures of up to 145°F. Quick steaming methods, which are commonly used to cook shellfish, may not heat foods thoroughly enough to destroy noroviruses.
Food that could be infected with norovirus should be discarded.
Keep ill children and infants away from locations where food is handled and prepared.
III. When you’re sick, don’t cook or look after others.
While you are unwell, and for at least two days after your symptoms have subsided, you should not prepare food for others or offer healthcare.
This includes sick personnel in restaurants, schools, daycares, long-term care homes, and other settings where norovirus could be spread.
IV. Surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected
Always thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire area when someone vomits or has diarrhea.
Put on rubber or disposable gloves and wipe the entire area with paper towels, then disinfect the area as suggested on the product label with a bleach-based home cleaner. Allow at least five minutes for the bleach disinfectant to work, then clean the entire surface with soap and hot water. Cleaning soiled laundry, bringing out the garbage, and washing your hands are the final steps.
Clean and sterilize kitchen utensils, counters, and surfaces before preparing meals to help ensure that food is free of norovirus.
Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1,000 to 5,000 ppm (5 to 25 teaspoons of home bleach [5% to 8% ] per gallon of water) or another disinfectant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as effective against norovirus (EPA).
V. Wash and dry any contaminated clothes properly
Remove and wash any clothes or linens that may have been soiled with vomit or feces right away.
Handle soiled goods gently without agitating them, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands afterward, then wash the items with detergent and hot water for the longest cycle time possible, then machine dry them at the highest heat setting.
Treatment of Gastroentritis
If you have norovirus, drink plenty of liquids to replace the fluid lost through vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration can be avoided by doing so.
Dehydration has the potential to cause major health issues. Severe dehydration may necessitate admission to the hospital for IV fluid therapy (intravenous or IV fluids).
In children with norovirus, keep an eye out for signs of dehydration. Dehydrated children may cry seldom or not at all, as well as be excessively sleepy or cranky.
Call your healthcare practitioner if you believe you or someone you care for is very dehydrated.
Antibiotics will not help treat norovirus infections because they are designed to combat bacteria rather than viruses.
When you have stomach flu, stay away from these foods.
You won’t be in the mood for them anyhow if you have the stomach flu, but avoid:
Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, strong black tea, and chocolate, which can interfere with sleep at a time when obtaining adequate rest is critical alcohol, which is a diuretic.
Dairy: While milk may not be an issue for everyone with the stomach flu, it might be difficult to digest and cause gas and diarrhea.
Fiber: If your bowels are loose, you don’t need the extra fiber.
Avoid oily and salty meals such as bacon.
Tomato-based foods, curries, and chili sauces should be avoided.