What is gastroenteritis: how to treat it

Gastroenteritis, or stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis, is an inflammation of the stomach and intestinal wall that is very common during the fall and winter seasons but can also be caught in summer. This inflammation of the stomach and intestines, the most common causes of which are viral, causes digestion problems, diarrhea or liquid stools, and vomiting. In many situations, the viruses involved in adults are noroviruses, adenoviruses, caliciviruses, astroviruses, and rotaviruses in children.

What causes gastroenteritis

However, gastroenteritis can also be caused by contaminated food or water (bacteria or parasites) or the side effects of certain medications. Most common medicines are antibiotics, antacids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cancer chemotherapy, digitalis, and colchicine. More than 10% of people receiving antibiotic treatment suffer from diarrhea.

The symptoms of gastroenteritis

Generally, in the case of gastro, the characteristic signs and symptoms include nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, flatulence, dehydration, mild fever, and headache.

viral gastroenteritis generally lasts less than three days, heals without treatment, and does not reappear in the short term. Bacterial or parasitic diarrhea requires antibiotic or antiparasitic treatment and often heals only after one or two weeks of evolution.

How long it lasts

Depending on the cause of the inflammation (virus, bacteria, parasite), its severity, and the patient’s fragility (digestion problems, etc.), the symptoms can last from one day to more than a week. Although gastro can usually be treated easily at home, this inflammation may also require a healthcare professional’s treatment objective to rehydrate and prevent dehydration.

How to treat gastroenteritis

Most humans suffer from diarrhea a few times a year, whether from a bacterial infection, food allergy, or simply food that’s not suitable for the body. Usually, diarrhea (watery stools) is not severe (unless there is blood in the chair) and often resolves within two or three days or even a week in more frail patients.

Many grandmother’s tips and remedies exist and are passed down through generations to treat gastroenteritis. Thus, home treatments for diarrhea are easily accessible to as many people as possible through books, specialized websites, etc.

In the event of gastro, the priority is to modify one’s diet and to favor appropriate foods and drinks. This dietary modification during gastro aims to enhance hydration and nutritional quality and compensate for minerals.

Indeed, vomiting and diarrhea cause losses in mineral salts (calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium) and significant water, which must be filled. Their roles are particularly crucial in the constitution of tissues, the regulation of water movement in the body, or the part of neuromuscular excitability.

What to eat if you have gastroenteritis

During gastroenteritis, it is essential to exclude from your lifestyle and diet milk and dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, fatty or highly seasoned foods for a few days. Additionally, illness and dehydration can make you weak and tired with spikes in stress, so getting maximum rest and relaxation is vital.

In addition, note that it is imperative to consult a doctor in some instances, in particular: if the vomiting persists for more than two days, if the diarrhea persists for several days and becomes bloody, if the fever is higher than 39°C, if dizziness or fainting occurs when standing, or if troubling abdominal pain develops.

When it comes to diet, certain foods and beverages can help calm symptoms, prevent further complications, and help the body regain good energy more quickly.

What to do with dehydration

The most common complication of gastroenteritis is dehydration. So when the first symptoms appear, it can be not easy to keep anything down, including water and other liquids. Although hydration is crucial in the face of this inflammation, drinking too much at once can make nausea and vomiting worse.

In this way, sucking on ice cubes is a good idea and a good starting point because it avoids consuming liquids too quickly and bringing small amounts of water regularly. This can help a patient retain less fluid and be better hydrated at the onset of gastroenteritis.

Chunks of ice help absorb water slowly, which the body can tolerate better in the early stages of gastro.

Diarrhea and vomiting are the main symptoms of gastroenteritis. They can quickly lead to dehydration if lost fluids are not replaced. Clear liquids are mostly made up of water and carbohydrates, making them easy to digest.

Among the liquids to favor, let us remember: water, broth (avoid broths and soups in sachets), light and decaffeinated teas, herbal teas, clear fruit juices (apple, cranberry, grape), sports drinks, coconut water, and oral rehydration solutions. However, keep in mind that fruit juices and sports drinks can be very high in sugar. Therefore, it is essential not to drink too many of these drinks at once. Also, it is imperative not to give them to infants and young children without medical advice from a healthcare professional, as they can make diarrhea worse.

What to eat after vomiting

After vomiting, it is advisable to rinse and wash your mouth, either with clear water or with a natural mouthwash based on baking soda. Indeed, when a patient vomits, stomach acids (stomach juice) end up in the mouth. Therefore, by rinsing the mouth, it will be possible to neutralize gastric acids and prevent irritation of the mouth and the aero-digestive crossroads.

Then, it is possible to try to consume foods such as bananas, rice (brown rice in particular), applesauce, dry toast, and soda crackers (crackers). For 24 to 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhea and vomiting, it is advisable to avoid foods that may irritate or make it difficult to digest, such as alcohol, caffeine, fats and oils, spicy foods, milk, or cheese.

What foods help against it

It is essential to modify your diet and consume appropriate foods and drinks to avoid laxative effects and restore intestinal flora during gastroenteritis. This diet aims to help with hydration, balance minerals in the body, and provide quality nutrition.

Banana, yogurt, compote, coffee, egg, chocolate, potato, bread, soup

For young infants give them breast milk or standard infant formula. For older children or adults, the preferable and recommended foods are: bananas, brown rice, chicken or other lean meats, whole grains, legumes (dried beans, etc.), rusks, potatoes, earth, white or whole-grain pasta, whole-grain starches, unsweetened applesauce, vegetables (except green vegetables), canned fruit in syrup, oral rehydration solutions (ORS), rich plain water in sodium. It is preferable to eat vegetables and fruits raw in general, except for certain vegetables such as carrots (to be eaten instead of cooked).

What foods to avoid during a gastroenteritis

Avoid foods such as Caffeine; Fatty foods (fried foods, etc.) and products containing too much fat; Milk and dairy products; Spicy foods and dishes, highly seasoned foods; Pouch or canned broths and soups; Sugary foods and sugary drinks (such as soft drinks or fruit juices); Citrus fruits (lemon, orange, etc.).

Keep your infants and children away from Caffeine; fatty foods and dairy products; Spicy foods or heavily seasoned foods; Sweet foods, sweet snacks, and industrial snacks; Fizzy drinks; Juices and fruit juice drinks; Gelatin (candies, etc.); sports drinks; Citrus fruits.

What should the baby eat in case of gastroenteritis?

In the event of gastroenteritis in an infant or child, it is essential to know what lifestyle and dietary measures to take to avoid dehydration. In addition, the occurrence of specific symptoms requires medical advice without delay.

Indeed, although gastro is very common, it can be dangerous if it leads to dehydration. Babies, children, and the elderly are most likely to become dehydrated quickly due to gastro.

Most gastrointestinal infections resolve without medical treatment, with symptoms lasting between one and five days, but sometimes it can take longer. From the earliest days, if a child drinks fluids and is alert and responsive, they can be cared for at home.

Babies and children should be watched closely when they feel unwell, as their condition can worsen rapidly if dehydrated. Thus, a doctor should be consulted immediately if a child shows dehydration, dry skin, or a reduced number of urinations.

On the other hand, among dietary advice, it is recommended to feed children when they are hungry after vomiting or diarrhea. Solid foods should be gradually resumed within 24 hours of the first symptoms to meet their craving. This gradual resumption of eating can help shorten the duration of diarrhea symptoms.

If the child is less than 12 months old and is fed breast milk, his usual milk should be reintroduced after 24 hours. Some children become lactose intolerant temporarily after a gastrointestinal illness, and a doctor may suggest a lactose-free formula for a while.

Finally, gastro in children is most often gastro of viral origin [9]. It is very contagious. This means it can spread quickly from person to person. Children are more at risk of catching gastro, as they are more likely to come into frequent close contact with people and surfaces.

So, for the healing process and to avoid contagion, careful cleaning with lukewarm water and detergent while your child is suffering from vomiting and diarrhea is essential when he has recovered (clean all surfaces and objects soiled or soiled or possibly soiled during illness).

In addition, hand washing and good hygiene practices are essential for children and parents. Hands should be washed with soap and running water and dried thoroughly (before preparing food and eating, using the toilet, and cleaning up vomit or diarrhea).

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