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GASTROENTERITIS refers to the inflammation of the stomach and small & large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses & results in vomiting or diarrhoea. It is often called the "stomach flu"

  1. Causes Many different viruses can cause gastroenteritis.

  2. Symptoms The main symptoms of viral gastroenteritis are watery diarrhoea & vomiting. The effected person may also suffer from a headache, fever, & abdominal cramps ("stomach ache") In general, the symptoms begin one to two days following infection with a virus that causes gastroenteritis and may last for one to ten days, depending on which virus causes the illness.

  3. Sources Food may be contaminated by cooks or handlers who have viral gastroenteritis, especially if they do not wash their hands regularly after using the bathroom. Shellfish may be contaminated by sewage, and people who eat raw or undercooked shellfish harvested from contaminated water may get diarrhoea. Drinking water can also be contaminated by sewage and be a source of spread of these viruses.

  4. Infection Yes, viral gastroenteritis is contagious. The viruses that cause gastroenteritis are spread through close contact with infected persons (for example, by sharing food, water or eating utensils.) Individuals may also become infected by eating or drinking contaminated foods or beverages.

  5. Treatment The most important thing when of treating viral gastroenteritis in children and adults is to prevent severe loss of fluids (dehydration). This treatment should begin at home. your physician may give you specific instructions about what kinds of fluid to give.It is recommended that families with infants and young children keep a supply of oral rehydration solution(ORS) at home at all times and use the solution when diarrhoea first occurs in the child.ORS is available at pharmacies without prescription..Follow the written instruction on the ORS package and use clean or boiled water.Medications, including antibiotics (which have no effect on viruses) and other treatments, shoud be avoided unless specifically recommended by a physician. People who get viral gastroenteritis almost always recover completely without any long-term problems.Gastroenteritis is a serious illness ,however for people who are unable to drink enough fluids to replace what they lose through vomiting or diarrhoea. Infants ,young children and people who are unable to care for themselves such as the disabled or elderly ,are at the risk of dehydration from loss of fluids.
  6. Prevention:- People can reduce their chances of getting infected by frequent handwashing, prompt disinfection of contaminated surfaces with household chlorine bleach-based cleaners, and prompt washing of soiled articles of clothing .If food or water is thought to be contaminated , it should be avoided .