What is gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is an infection of the intestine and stomach caused by several types of bacteria and viruses. This condition, known as stomach flu, can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and cause fever.
Before explaining the notion of gastroenteritis, many people are still confused about whether there are differences in gastroenteritis and diarrhea. Basically, gastroenteritis and diarrhea are triggered by the same cause.
However, when you have diarrhea does not mean you have gastroenteritis. Diarrhea is a symptom of a disease, not a disease. Meanwhile, gastroenteritis itself occurs due to inflammation or infection in the digestive tract which then triggers diarrhea.
Eventually, the difference between gastroenteritis and diarrhea can be seen from the symptoms. In general, gastroenteritis causes stomach cramps, vomiting and nausea. If gastroenteritis occurs due to a virus, the symptoms that can appear are headaches and muscles to appear fever.
If gastroenteritis occurs due to bacteria, the symptoms that appear are accompanied by diarrhea which in some cases can bleed. This symptom is different from diarrhea in general, which is only repeatedly large in the form of liquid stool.
Causes of Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is a condition that can be caused by a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection. Infection usually spreads through contaminated food or water and makes contact with an infected person.
The following are two causes of gastroenteritis in adults are viral and bacterial infections:
1. Viral gastroenteritis
In healthy adults, viral infections of the digestive tract are often the cause for mild episodes of gastroenteritis. Viral infections include Norwalk virus, rotavirus and other agents.
This virus is highly contagious and usually spreads from one person to another on dirty hands or through contact with an infected person, such as sharing food or cutlery.
Viral gastroenteritis often spreads very easily within institutions and other situations where people live in close proximity, such as prisons, nursing homes, cruises, schools, college dorms and campers. This virus can also spread when someone touches the feces of an infected person or touches a surface that is contaminated with infected feces.
In some situations, agents that cause viral gastroenteritis can also be found in drinks or food, especially in drinking water or taps that have been contaminated with waste. Foods that do not meet proper sanitation procedures can also spread viral gastroenteritis in food served in restaurants and cafeterias.
2. Bacterial gastroenteritis
Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, E. coli and other types of bacteria can cause gastroenteritis. They can spread through contact with an infected person, drinks or eating infected food. In some cases, this disease is caused by toxins produced by bacteria that grow on food that has been prepared or stored incorrectly.
If a person consumes these germ-filled foods, the symptoms of gastroenteritis are triggered either by the bacteria themselves or the toxin products that the bacteria produce. Symptoms of toxin usually begin within a few hours. Symptoms from bacteria can occur within a few days.
Every year millions of people experience gastroenteritis through eating contaminated food, while millions more suffer from mild viral gastroenteritis. In healthy adults, both forms of gastroenteritis tend to be mild and brief, and many episodes or conditions have never been reported to the doctor.
However, in older people and people with weakened immune systems, this disease can sometimes produce dehydration and other dangerous gastroenteritis complications.
Even in strong adults, some aggressive types of bacteria sometimes cause more serious forms of food poisoning. This can cause high fever and severe gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloody and slimy diarrhea.
Signs of gastroenteritis usually appear between 1-3 days after infection. The severity also varies, from mild to severe. Symptoms will generally last for 1-2 days, but can also up to 10 days. Some symptoms that usually appear include:
- The emergence of stomach cramps.
- Decreased appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Nausea and vomiting appear.
- Fever appears, muscle aches and headaches.
- Excessive sweating and skin becomes moist.
- Watery diarrhea and in some cases can be mixed with blood.
If you have any of the above signs, immediately consult a doctor to get the right treatment.