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Viral Gastroenteritis aka ‘Stomach Bug’

It seems the stomach bug is around, so what are the signs? 

What are the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is typically cause by a virus and symptoms usually begin about 1 to 2 days after the virus gets into the body.

Common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • VomitingWoman holding stomach in pain
  • Watery diarrhea

Other possible symptoms are:

  • Mild Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Stomachache

Signs of dehydration:

  • Decreased urine output
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dry skin
  • Thirst
  • Dizziness

Signs of dehydration in young children:

  • Dry diapers (from a lack of urination)
  • Lack of tears
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Sunken fontanel (the soft spot on the top of an infant’s head)

How is viral gastroenteritis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will most likely diagnose your condition based on your history and symptoms. You will rarely need testing. If your symptoms persist, your healthcare provider may ask for a stool sample to look for viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

Can viral gastroenteritis be prevented?

You and your children can help prevent viral gastroenteritis by taking these steps:

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water after going to the bathroom, after changing a diaper, and before touching any food.
  • Use alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • If someone in the house has gastroenteritis, wash all surfaces that might be contaminated with a bleach-based cleaner.

How is viral gastroenteritis treated?

In most cases, you simply need to drink plenty of fluids and rest at home until the virus leaves your system. In rare cases, you may need treatment for severe dehydration, with IV (intravenous) fluids.

Helpful home care tips include:

  • Drink plenty of light fluids like water, ice chips, fruit juice, and broth. Keep in mind that sports drinks are high in sugar and are not appropriate if you are extremely dehydrated. In this case, you will need an oral rehydration solution.
  • Avoid drinks that contain milk, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Once you feel hungry again, start with mild, easy to digest foods. (BRAT Diet – Bananas Rice Apples Toast)
  • Rehydrate children with oral rehydration solutions.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Viral gastroenteritis is common in children and adults. In most cases, the disease is not serious and will run its course in a few days. Call your healthcare provider if you or a family member has vomiting or diarrhea that’s not getting better, worsening abdominal pain, if you see blood or tar-like stool, or if you have any signs of dehydration.

If your doctor is unable to see you, you can be seen at one of ExpressCare locations in Andover or Riverwalk/ Lawrence.  Visit www.pmaonline.com/expresscare to learn more or to schedule an appointment online.

Fifteen Benefits of Drinking Water

Keeping hydrated is crucial for health and well-being, but many people do not consume enough fluids each day. Around 60 percent of the body is made up of water, and around 71 percent of the planet’s surface is covered by water.

Perhaps it is the ubiquitous nature of water that means drinking enough each day is not at the top of many people’s lists of priorities.

Continue reading “Fifteen Benefits of Drinking Water”