In general, Gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, is essentially a viral infection that affects your digestive system. The viruses attack your stomach and intestines and infect them. This illness can also get triggered due to bacteria, bacterial toxins, or parasitic infections. It is a common type of illness and lasts for a short term. It is a highly contagious infection, which is why it is necessary to maintain a safe distance from the person who has it.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis
The infection leads to inflammation in the stomach and intestines. It can give rise to the symptoms including:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Loss of appetite
- Low-grade fever
- Headache or muscle ache
The inflammation in your stomach and intestines happens due to your immune system’s response. Inflammation usually happens in the stomach and small intestines, but it can also happen in the large intestines when the infection spreads to the large intestines. Your immune system responds to the infection by releasing the white blood cells at the site of the infection.
The immune system causes inflammation in the area affected by the infection, which is a natural response to harmful stimuli, by viruses, pathogens, toxins, or bacteria. In this way, it initiates the healing process in your stomach and intestines.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the person might become aware that they have caught the infection after 1 to 3 days. Because the symptoms may take some time to appear. The symptoms can initially be mild and depending on the condition, they may also become severe. This short-term illness usually lasts for a few days, not beyond 14 days. Those who have a weak immune system may experience severe symptoms.
Causes of gastroenteritis
Moreover, Infectious pathogens can enter your body through food and water that are contaminated. It might even get spread when you share things with an infected person. Moreover, Limiting your contact with them and maintaining proper hygiene will prevent your risk of developing stomach flu.
As per the Cleveland Clinic website, the most common types of viruses that contribute to gastroenteritis or stomach flu are:
It is the most common cause of stomach flu in adults. The virus inflames the stomach and intestines. These viruses are mostly resistant to disinfecting agents and temperature.
Moreover, This virus is the leading cause of gastroenteritis among children. The virus enters the body through contaminated food and water. The infection may also occur when children touch objects or surfaces that are contaminated with the pathogens.
Children younger than 3 years old are more prone to this type of stomach flu. Viral transmission can happen in daycare centers.
This type of viral infection can happen among kids of any age. It can cause mild to severe symptoms. The virus mostly affects the respiratory system but when they get to the gastrointestinal tract, they can lead to gastroenteritis.
Stages of gastroenteritis
The illness has four different stages, which are listed below:
In this stage, the person will get exposed to the infectious pathogen while being in a social setting. Most children are more susceptible to getting the infection that leads to stomach flu. The pathogens enter the host body and reach the stomach and intestines.
During this stage, the pathogens start growing and multiplying inside the host body. The immune system receives the signal that some foreign element has entered the body. The immune system kicks into action. This period might remain for a few days.
The infection happens suddenly and remains for a temporary period. The rapid growth and multiplication of the pathogens will get slowed down due to the immune system’s action in fighting the infection. This causes inflammation in the affected area of the organ, which is the immune system’s action for killing off the pathogens and preventing them from multiplying.
Moreover, This is the final stage, where the immune system gains complete control over the infectious pathogens and starts the healing process. Moreover, The symptoms begin to fade away and the health of your digestive system starts getting restored.
Prevention of gastroenteritis
Maintaining proper hygiene will reduce your risk of developing stomach flu or gastroenteritis. This infection spreads due to the exposure to germs from an infected individual’s body and objects. Therefore, it is necessary to wash your hands before you consume food. Avoid touching your eyes, face, or mouth after you have touched some object, chances are, it might be contaminated with the virus.
If a member of your family has got the infection, then you must use a good quality disinfectant to clean the surface that you all use commonly, such as a bathroom, kitchen, door handles, etc. Moreover, The touch of an infected person can leave germs on the surface.
Eat home-cooked meals
Eating outside can increase your risk of getting the infection, as the food prepared outside is generally contaminated with germs due to lack of hygiene. So, prefer home-cooked meals.
Maintain your distance
If possible, try to avoid being close to the person who has the infection. Moreover, This will reduce your risk of getting the infection.