If you’ve ever been struck with nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps all at once, you know that viral gastroenteritis (or the stomach flu) is no joke. While the illness usually resolves without any treatment within a few days, it can be quite uncomfortable in the meantime. This article provides an overview of viral gastroenteritis, including its causes, symptoms, and prevention tips. Read on to learn more!
What is viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?
Viral gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as the stomach flu, is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract that typically causes stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. The viruses that cause this illness are highly contagious and can be easily passed from person to person through contact with contaminated surfaces or through close contact with someone who is infected.
What are the types of gastroenteritis?
There are three types of viral gastroenteritis: A, B, and C.
- Type A is the most common and can be caused by several different viruses, including Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Adenovirus. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.
- Type B is also common and is caused by the Hepatitis A virus. Symptoms are similar to those of type A, but may also include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and liver damage.
- Type C is less common than the other two types and is caused by the Cytomegalovirus. Symptoms are usually mild and include fever and diarrhea.
What are the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis?
The most common symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include:
- Stomach pain or cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches and pains
These symptoms typically last for a few days, although some people may experience them for up to two weeks. In most cases, the illness resolves on its own and does not require any medical treatment. However, if you are vomiting frequently or cannot keep any liquids down, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent dehydration.
How is viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) spread?
According to Marham best gastroenterologist viral gastroenteritis is highly contagious and can be easily spread from person to person. The viruses that cause the illness are typically spread through contact with contaminated surfaces or close contact with someone who is infected.
For example, you may get the virus if you touch a doorknob that has been touched by someone who is infected and then put your hand in your mouth. The virus can also be spread through food or water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. It is also possible to get the virus by coming into contact with vomit from an infected person.
What are the complications of viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?
In most cases, viral gastroenteritis resolves on its own without any complications. However, the illness can sometimes lead to more serious complications, such as dehydration. Dehydration occurs when your body does not have enough fluids and can cause symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, and dark urine. If you are vomiting frequently or cannot keep any liquids down, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent dehydration.
How is viral gastroenteritis treated?
Usually, viral gastroenteritis does not require any treatment and will resolve on its own within a few days. However, there are some things you can do to help ease your symptoms and prevent dehydration.
- Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, such as water, clear broths, and sports drinks.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can make dehydration worse.
- If you are vomiting, try to take small sips of fluids frequently rather than large amounts all at once.
- You can also suck on ice chips or popsicles to stay hydrated.
How can you prevent yourself from getting sick with viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?
There is no vaccine available to prevent viral gastroenteritis, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of getting the illness. Be sure to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. If you are sick, stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the virus.
Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus. And be sure to wash your hands after using the restroom, changing diapers, or handling vomit or feces. You can also get a yearly flu vaccine, which will help protect you from some other types of viruses that can cause viral gastroenteritis.
What is the prognosis for someone with viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu)?
In most cases, viral gastroenteritis resolves on its own within a few days. However, the illness can sometimes lead to more serious complications, such as dehydration. Dehydration occurs when your body does not have enough fluids and can cause symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, and dark urine. If you are vomiting frequently or cannot keep any liquids down, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent dehydration.
Long-term effects of dehydration can include kidney damage and malnutrition. In severe cases, viral gastroenteritis can also lead to death. The prognosis is generally good for people who do not develop any complications from the illness. However, those who do develop complications may require hospitalization and may have a longer recovery time.
When to see a doctor?
If you are vomiting frequently or cannot keep any fluids down, it is important to see an online stomach doctor as soon as possible to prevent dehydration. In severe cases, viral gastroenteritis can also lead to death. If you develop any other complications from the illness, such as kidney damage or malnutrition, you should also see a doctor.
1. How long does viral gastroenteritis last?
Depending on the origin, viral gastroenteritis symptoms can range from mild to severe and develop between 1-3 days of infection. Symptoms normally last a day or two, although they can persist up to 14 days in rare cases.
2. How do you get viral gastroenteritis?
People can become infected by contacting contaminated surfaces and then touching their lips, or by eating or drinking contaminated foods or beverages. Sewage may contaminate food (particularly shellfish) and water.
3. How can you tell if gastroenteritis is viral or bacterial?
The kind of gastrointestinal symptoms might indicate the type of infection; for example, a viral infection generates diarrhea without blood or mucus, and watery diarrhea is the most common symptom. Mucus and blood, on the other hand, are more commonly found with bacterial diarrhea.