Gastroenteritis is an inflammation or infection of the digestive tract, mainly the stomach and intestines. It is probably the most commonly occurring illness with an average person having about three to four bouts in a year. The illness can sometimes be minor and the person may experience only nausea and it may go completely unrecognized but on the other hand, it can also be very severe leading to death within a few days.
Gastroenteritis is very common in children and accounts for high infant mortality in our country mainly due to poor hygiene, lack of education and scarcity of health resources.
Bacteria, viruses, parasites, bacterial toxins various chemicals and drugs cause gastroenteritis. Viral Gastroenteritis is very common in infants and children and occurs during the winter months. It is generally a minor illness and is resolved within a few days. No specific treatment is required except adequate hydration.
Bacterial Gastroenteritis can be very severe, generally caused by the consumption of contaminated water or food. Cholera is a severe form of bacterial Gastroenteritis which is a rapidly progressive illness and may be fatal if left untreated. Poor personal hygiene may lead to the spread of the infection among close contacts. Tiny parasites like Guardia and amoeba which spread through unclean water can cause Gastroenteritis though in less severe form.
• Acute pancreatitis Acute pancreatitis usually begins soon after the damage to the pancreas begins. Attacks are typically very mild, but about 20% of them are very severe. An attack lasts for a short time and usually resolves completely as the pancreas returns to its normal state. Some people have only one attack, whereas other people have more than one attack, but the pancreas always returns to its normal state unless necrotizing pancreatitis develops and becomes life-threatening.
• Chronic pancreatitis begins as acute pancreatitis. If the pancreas becomes scarred during the attack of acute pancreatitis, it cannot return to its normal state. The damage to the gland continues, worsening over time.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis
- Abdominal Pain
- Fever and Chills
You should see your doctor if your symptoms last more than about five days and/or increase in severity, your symptoms go away but come back, your stools become bloody or pussy, you have constant abdominal pain, or if you develop dehydration. Dehydration can arise from the excessive loss of fluid from the body, which can occur quickly with gastroenteritis.
- Stop eating solid foods to let your stomach settle
- Avoid dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine
- Avoid sugary, fatty or highly seasoned foods
- Make sure that you get plenty of rest