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Gastroenteritis

You have devoured your favorite shrimp salad at dinnertime. In a few hours you might be racked by stomach cramps and diarrhea. You will probably experience vomiting and low grade fever too. This is a classic case of gastroenteritis - a condition where the intestines are inflamed due to bacterial or viral infection. Gastroenteritis infection can also be caused due to food poisoning, food allergy, intestinal parasites, viral infection, medication or food consumed while you are traveling. Gastroenteritis can affect anyone but it is usually more severe in infants, the elderly and immunosuppressed people. Gastroenteritis in children can be serious if left unattended. It is the leading cause of death among children worldwide.

Viral and Bacterial Gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis is caused by a viral infection that affects the stomach and intestines. In fact, viral gastroenteritis is one of the most common ailments in the U.S. A person can contract this viral gastroenteritis infection from contaminated food or drinking water. Within a few hours, the first symptoms are noticed. While viral gastroenteritis infections usually clear up without medicines within a few days, bacterial gastroenteritis needs to be treated. Rotavirus is the most common cause for viral gastroenteritis. It affects infants and young children and can surface as an outbreak during some seasons. Rotavirus can also affect other age groups. The Norwalk Virus is another cause of infectious gastroenteritis. It is common in school-going children. Viral gastroenteritis is usually treated with self care measures. Bacterial gastroenteritis infection can be caused by Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E coli), Campylobacter or Shigella. These bacteria can be found in poultry, eggs or meat. Once they enter the body, they multiply and produce toxins. After a few hours of eating, symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis appear.A stool assay can help in identifying the specific agent for the gastroenteritis and aid treatment.

Treating Gastroenteritis

Usually the reaction to gastroenteritis infections hinges on your immune systemís ability to resist the infection. A person suffering from gastroenteritis will probably feel nauseous and experienced a bloated feeling. Abdominal cramps and mild to severe watery stools may be noticed for a couple of days. Severe cases of gastroenteritis can result in dehydration. Signs of dehydration to look out for are dry skin, excessive thirst and absence of urination for many hours. If a person suffering from gastroenteritis experiences severe abdominal pain or high fever or blood in the stools, consult a health professional at once. With little children, it is essential to give them clear fluids to replace lost fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea. Infants can be breast fed normally. Gastroenteritis can be very serious in infants. If you notice dry mouth, sunken eyes and irritability, consult a doctor immediately.


  • Drink plenty of water and fluids to restore fluid and salt requirements of the body
  • Avoid milk and dairy products
  • Take adequate rest till symptoms persist
  • Consume bland foods and avoid spicy foods, fried foods and alcohol
  • Consume electrolyte solutions
  • Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen as they irritate the gastrointestinal system
  • Avoid sharing food and water and utensils with others for fear of spreading the infection

Allergist

Immunologists as they are also called, allergists are physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating any disease relating to the immune system of the body. Allergists may also specialize in any particular type of allergy like food allergy or may specialize in treating a particular age group such as adults or children. Allergists who treat children are called pediatric allergists. The general conditions treated by allergists are asthma, eczema, insect bites and allergies due to environmental pollution or food. Allergies arise due to various reasons in our day to day life and allergists will be the right persons to identify them.


  • Allergist diagnoses, reaches the root cause of the problem and identifies the reason for the allergy.
  • He will ask for a few tests that will help identifying the cause for the allergy. The tests can include either blood tests or skin tests.
  • Depending on the test results, the reason for the allergy is pinpointed and you will be asked to avoid those allergy-causing agents.
  • Depending on the type of allergy and taking into account the cause of the allergy, medications are prescribed.
  • In worse cases, if the allergy refuses to ease off even after medications, injections are given to ease off the allergy.

Choose the right allergist

  • Ensure that the allergist is a qualified physician who has completed medical school and specialized in pediatrics (in case of children) or internal medicine. He should have completed a specialization in allergic diseases for a period of at least two years.
  • The allergist should have a certification from the American board of allergy and immunology.
  • Ask your family physician to recommend the right allergist and check on the type of medication he will use for you.
  • Ensure he has the right experience to handle the type of problem you or your child is facing.

Modern day innovations have made it easy for people who have to undergo allergy treatments. Medications of the recent days no longer give the patient a drugged feeling as they used to earlier thereby imparting the freedom to carry on with their usual routine. New immunotherapy systems are replacing the traditional ones are both easy to use and highly effective.


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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: August 20, 2019