Gastroenteritis is an inflammatory condition that can cause a host of abdominal and digestive problems. It involves inflammation of the intestinal tract, and it’s typically caused by the presence of a virus or bacteria. Sometimes the condition can be managed on your own from the comfort of your home, while other times you’ll want to sync up with a gastrointestinal specialist to help treat the issue. Below, we take a closer look at gastroenteritis and how Dr. Bhatti and his team can help you get the issue under control.
Gastroenteritis Causes and Symptoms
As we mentioned in the introduction, gastroenteritis is typically caused by the presence of an infection or certain bacteria in the digestive tract. Here’s a closer look at each main cause:
- Viral Gastroenteritis – Viral infections of the digestive tract at the most common cause of mild to moderate episodes of gastroenteritis in adults. Rotaviruses, adenoviruses and the Norwalk virus are common agents that can lead to gastroenteritis. Coming in close contact with someone who is infected with a virus, or food and drink contamination, are the most common ways in which one of these viruses enters the body and begins to disturb the intestines.
- Bacterial Gastroenteritis – A number of different bacteria agents can also lead to gastroenteritis. Salmonella is probably the most familiar bacteria strain that can cause gastroenteritis, but other agents include E. coli, Campylobacter jejuni and shigella. Just like a virus, these bacteria can be transmitted due to close contact with a carrier or by eating improperly prepared or contaminated food and liquids.
Symptoms of the condition include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Loss of appetite
More than a million Americans develop gastroenteritis each year by eating contaminated food, and for most of them, care involves resting, staying hydrated and trying to eat some small bland meals to help calm the stomach and your digestive tract. However, if you have a more severe case, or you’re older and have a weakened immune system, you may need to connect with a gastrointestinal specialist like Dr. Bhatti to help resolve symptoms and prevent long-term problems.
Most symptoms resolve within 24-28 hours, but if you have severe diarrhea, bloody stool, a fever above 101 degrees or another medical condition that has weakened your immune system, reach out to a professional. A specialist can help figure out exactly what virus or bacteria is causing the inflammation, and they can prescribe medication or antibiotics to help eliminate it. Thankfully, unlike a number of other gastrointestinal conditions, gastroenteritis isn’t typically something that just comes back on its own, so once the original issue has been treated, the focus shifts to prevention.
The good news is that now that we’ve lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re probably much more aware of how we can prevent viral and bacterial infections. Regularly washing our hands and practicing good hygiene is a great start, but you also need to be smart about your food preparation. Cook your food thoroughly and don’t eat certain foods that have been left out for an extended period of time.
So if you are experiencing gastrointestinal distress, or you need help figuring out what’s causing your stomach issues, reach out to the specialists at Bhatti GI Consultants today.