What is stomach flu?

Stomach flu also known as gastroenteritis or infectious diarrhea is referred to as the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract collectively known as the stomach and the small intestine. Stomach flu ironically has no relativity to influenza.

Stomach flu symptoms
Stomach flu symptoms

According to a Wikipedia statistics, it is estimated that three to five billion cases of gastroenteritis resulting in 1.4 million deaths occur globally each year. Children and those in the developing world are most commonly affected. As of 2011. In those below age five, there were about 1.7 billion cases resulting in 0.7 million deaths. In the developing world children less than two years of age frequently get six or more infections a year. It is less common in adults, partly due to the development of immunity. (Wikipedia)

Stomach flu is majorly caused by viruses, occasionally bacteria, fungi, and parasites may cause it. The following viral species has been indicated to be causative organisms of stomach flu- Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica and Cryptosporidium spp. Stomach flu may resolve within about 10 days without medication, however, if the symptoms stomach flu symptoms persist, you may have to visit your doctor.

The first signs of stomach flu noticeable are diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting immediately there is an onset of viral infection. These viral infection may easily spread through consumption of poorly prepared foods or drinking water that has been contaminated. Stomach flu affects children mostly due to their desire to eat anything in sight without prior thought as to how the food was cooked.

In the management of gastroenteritis, the symptoms of stomach flu is often treated as opposed to finding the real cause, more so, the symptoms may subside in few days without taking drugs.

Symptoms of stomach flu

Stomach flu may present symptoms especially those that looks similar to other gastric inflammation symptoms such as ulcerative colitis and acid reflux. Stomach flu symptoms normally will resolve within few days depending on the causative organism. The following are stomach virus symptoms:

  1. Abdominal cramps and pain.
  2. Nausea and vomiting
  3. (This may a low-grade fever).
  4. Diarrhea (usually watery with no traces of blood).

There are certain instances when you might have to see a doctor depending on the severity of the symptoms of stomach virus presented. Let us look at the following cases.

In children, it is advisable to see your doctor if the following stomach virus symptoms are presented:

  1. Fever with body temperature rising as far as 38.9⁰C or higher.
  2. If your child looks lethargic
  3. If you sighted a bloody diarrhea.
  4. If your child is seriously dehydrated. You begin to notice pale skin with dryness.

For Adults

In adults, if the symptoms of stomach flu becomes aggravated to the following extents, it is time to see your doctor:

  1. Persistent vomit for at least 1 day.
  2. If your vomit is tinged with blood.
  3. Body temperatures at or above 104⁰F (40⁰C) should call for a serious concern.
  4. Severe dehydration with signs of deep yellow urine, burning sensation when urinating.
  5. Vomiting blood.
  6. Severe body weakness, dizziness or fainting spell.

For babies (little children under the ages of 2years)

If any of the symptoms presented belongs to any of the following listed below, do call your doctor as early as possible:

  1. Dehydration (this is characterized by dry diapers for at most 7hours).
  2. Has bloody stools or severe diarrhea.
  3. Has a fontanel i.e. a sunken soft spot on the head.
  4. Unusual drowsiness and sleepiness.

In the management of stomach flu, severe cases often attract feeding and fluid may be administered via nasogastric tubes. Rehydration therapies are often needed to restore the lost body fluids.

So also body serum electrolytes and kidney function needs to be checked in cases of severe dehydration to prevent complications.

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