Stomach flu or gastroenteritis is vomiting and diarrhea due to infection or inflammation of the walls of the digestive tract, especially the stomach and intestines. In the wider community, gastroenteritis is better known as vomiting.

Most gastroenteritis is caused by a viral infection, the transmission of which is very easy. In addition to infection, gastroenteritis can also be caused by the side effects of drugs.

Gastroenteritis can go away on its own without treatment. This condition can be prevented by implementing a clean and healthy lifestyle, such as diligently washing hands, and maintaining the cleanliness of the water and food consumed.

Causes of Gastroenteritis

Most vomiting or gastroenteritis are caused by viral infections . There are two types of viruses that are the main cause of gastroenteritis, namely Norovirus and Rotavirus . In addition to these two types of viruses, gastroenteritis can also be caused by Adenovirus and Astrovirus .

Gastroenteritis can be transmitted through direct contact, for example shaking hands with sufferers or accidentally inhaling splashes of saliva that come out when sufferers sneeze. Viruses can also be transmitted through food, drink, and objects that have been contaminated with the virus.

The habit of not washing your hands after defecating or before eating can also increase the risk of gastroenteritis. Therefore, try to always wash your hands before eating or after doing outdoor activities.

Apart from viruses, gastroenteritis can also be caused by:

  • Bacteria, such as Campylobacter bacterium
  • Parasites, such as Entamoeba histolytica and Crystosporidium
  • Certain medications, such as antibiotics, antacids , or chemotherapy drugs
  • Heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic , or mercury, that are inhaled from the air or contained in mineral water

Gastroenteritis risk factors

There are several groups of people who are more at risk of developing gastroenteritis or stomach flu, namely:

  • Children
    Toddlers or children do not have a strong immune system so they are susceptible to infection.
  • Dormitory residents
    The high level of interaction between students in the school and dormitory environment can increase the risk of transmission of gastroenteritis.
  • Elderly
    Elderly people tend to experience a decrease in their immune system so they are more easily infected with stomach flu or gastroenteritis.
  • People with weak
    immune systems People with impaired immune systems, such as people with AIDS or cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy , have weak immune systems so they can catch viruses more easily.

Gastroenteritis symptoms

The main symptoms of gastroenteritis are diarrhea and vomiting that appear 1–3 days after infection. Symptoms usually last 1–2 days, but can take up to 10 days.

In addition to vomiting and diarrhea, people with gastroenteritis or vomiting are also at risk for additional symptoms, such as:

  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Nauseous
  • No appetite
  • Stomach ache
  • Muscle and joint pain

When to go to the doctor

Gastroenteritis can heal by itself within a few days. However, immediately consult a doctor if you experience:

  • Fever to above 40 o C
  • Symptoms of dehydration , such as thirst, dry mouth, and concentrated urine
  • Vomiting for more than 2 days or if accompanied by blood
  • bloody chapters

Gastroenteritis is quite common in children. Immediately consult your child to the doctor if he has vomiting accompanied by:

  • Fever over 38 o C
  • Fussy or cranky
  • Nervous
  • Cry without shedding tears
  • Vomiting for more than a few hours
  • Diapers stay dry for a long time
  • Diarrhea with blood

Gastroenteritis diagnosis

Gastroenteritis is easily recognized by the signs that appear, namely vomiting and diarrhea. If the symptoms are mild and only last a short time, then there is no need to see a doctor, because this condition can heal on its own.

Examination to the doctor needs to be done if severe symptoms appear. In this condition, the doctor will ask for a medical history and perform a physical examination on the patient, such as measuring blood pressure, pulse and body temperature.

If necessary, the doctor can also perform a stool examination to determine the cause of diarrhea and vomiting.

Gastroenteritis Treatment

Most gastroenteritis or stomach flu do not require special treatment, as they will go away on their own. Gastroenteritis treatment steps are more aimed at avoiding worsening symptoms and preventing dehydration, especially in children.

The main treatment methods for gastroenteritis are drinking lots of water and eating nutritious foods. Patients are advised to eat smaller portions, but more frequently.

So that symptoms don't get worse, avoid consuming milk, yogurt, coffee, alcohol, cheese, and spicy, high-fiber, or high-fat foods.

To replace lost body fluids, sufferers can consume ORS. This solution contains electrolytes and minerals needed by the body. Although ORS can be purchased freely, be sure to follow the directions for use or ask your doctor first.

If needed, the doctor can give medication to relieve the symptoms caused by gastroenteritis. The types of drugs given are:

  • Antibiotics , such as amoxicillin , if the gastroenteritis is caused by a bacterial infection
  • Antifungals, such as nystatin , to treat gastroenteritis caused by a yeast infection
  • Loperamide , to relieve diarrhea

Patients need to undergo treatment in the hospital if the dehydration is severe enough. This treatment aims to replace lost body fluids and nutrients, through the administration of intravenous fluids.

Management of gastroenteritis in children

If your child has vomiting or diarrhea, let their digestion rest for 15–20 minutes. After that, give it a drink gradually to meet fluid needs and prevent dehydration. The type of liquid given can be in the form of water, ORS solution, or breast milk if your child is still a baby.

Other treatments that can be done are:

  • Give food with a smooth texture and easy to digest, such as bread, potatoes, or bananas.
  • Don't give your child foods or drinks that contain milk or are high in sugar, such as ice cream, soda and candy.
  • Do not give your child over-the-counter diarrhea medicines without a prescription, except on doctor's advice. Giving any type of child stomach pain medication should be consulted with a doctor first.

If the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea in children are getting worse and independent efforts are not effective in relieving symptoms, then immediately consult your child to the doctor to get treatment.

Gastroenteritis Complications

Vomiting and diarrhea due to gastroenteritis cause the body to lose a lot of fluids and nutrients. This condition can trigger symptoms of dehydration, which include:

  • Dizzy
  • Easily tired and sleepy
  • Constant thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Dark or dark colored urine

Gastroenteritis Prevention

The main preventive measure for gastroenteritis is to wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, after doing activities outside the home, and after urinating or defecating.

Wash your hands up to your fingernails and fingernails with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, then rinse thoroughly. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer .

Gastroenteritis can also be prevented by:

  • Do not share the use of eating and bathing utensils with others
  • Cleaning items suspected to have been contaminated with viruses or bacteria
  • Avoid consuming raw or undercooked food
  • Clean the bathroom and kitchen regularly, especially doorknobs, toilet seats, cooking utensils, and the kitchen floor
  • Consume bottled water and avoid using ice cubes when you are traveling
  • Using bottled water to brush your teeth while traveling

As a long-term prevention, children can undergo rotavirus vaccination , to prevent gastroenteritis due to rotavirus infection.

There are two types of rotavirus vaccine in Indonesia, which are given 3 times, when babies are 6–14 weeks, 18–22 weeks, and 8 months; and which is given 2 times, when the baby is 10 weeks and 14 weeks.

For babies who are more than 6-8 months old but have never received the rotavirus vaccine, this immunization is not necessary. This is because there are no studies to ensure the safety of this vaccine in infants and children older than 6–8 months.

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