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Home :: Digestive Disorders

Viral Gastroenteritis


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Viral Gastroenteritis

Viral Gastroenteritis is a common cause of acute diarrhoea. It is one of the most important causes of death amongst infants and little children in developing countries like India and Bangladesh. Viral gastroenteritis occurs throughout the year although the summer months tend to have the greatest numbers. But for infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems, gastroenteritis can be deadly. The last two terms are incorrect and should be avoided. The influenza virus does not cause epidemic viral gastroenteritis but instead is responsible for "the flu," a systemic, febrile (causes a fever) disease that predominantly involves the respiratory tract and not the digestive tract in humans. Do not give anti-diarrheal medications to children unless directed to do so by a health care provider. Since the risk of dehydration is greater in infants and young children, parents should closely monitor the number of wet diapers changed per day when the child is sick. In addition to avoiding food and water that may be contaminated, thorough and frequent hand washing is your best defense.

Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Often called the stomach flu, gastroenteritis is one of the most common acute illnesses worldwide, yet it has no effective treatment. The second is epidemic gastroenteritis, which occurs either in semiclosed communities (eg, families, institutions, ships, vacation spots) or as a result of classic food-borne or water-borne pathogens. You usually develop gastroenteritis because you've been in contact with someone who's already infected or because you've ingested contaminated food or water. If you're otherwise healthy, you're likely to recover without any complications, although you may feel miserable for a week or more. The objective of treatment is to replace fluids and electrolytes (salt and minerals) lost by diarrhea. Antibiotic therapy is not effective in viral illness. Antidiarrheal medications are generally not given, as they may prolong the infectious process. Self-care measures to avoid dehydration include drinking electrolyte solutions (available over-the-counter) to replace fluids lost by diarrhea.

Viral gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by a viral infection. It usually is of acute onset, normally lasting less than 10 days and self-limiting.Highly contagious, viral gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the United States. Sometimes it is referred to simply as 'gastro'. It is often called the stomach flu or gastric flu even though it is not related to influenza . Morphologic abnormalities can be minimal, and recent studies demonstrate that rotavirus can be released from infected epithelial cells without destroying them. Viral attachment and entry into the epithelial cell without cell death may be enough to initiate diarrhea. It is often called the " stomach flu ," although it is not caused by the influenza viruses. Rotavirus is the leading cause of gastroenteritis in children and can also occur in adults exposed to children with the virus. Norwalk virus causes group-related or institutional diarrhea with peak frequency during the winter. Norwalk-like viruses are common in school-age children.

Causes of Viral Gastroenteritis

The common Causes of Viral Gastroenteritis :

  • The primary cause of this problem is the ingestion of food that has been prepared by someone carrying the virus
  • These viruses are often found in contaminated food or drinking water.
  • Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis usually appear within 4 to 48 hours after exposure to the contaminated food or water.
  • Rotavirus and astrovirus also may cause epidemics of viral gastroenteritis.
  • Few studies have examined the causes of sporadic cases of adult viral gastroenteritis.
  • Researchers have recognized for a long time that certain enteric adenoviruses are an important cause of infantile gastroenteritis recent studies confirm that they cause 2-6% of cases.
  • Viral gastroenteritis is not caused by bacteria (such as Salmonella or Escherichia coli ) or parasites (such as Giardia ), or by medications or other medical conditions, although the symptoms may be similar.

Symptoms of Viral Gastroenteritis

Some common Symptoms of Viral Gastroenteritis :

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramp
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weight loss (unintentional)
  • Mild fever
  • Chills
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Abdominal cramps

Treatment of Viral Gastroenteritis

Here is the list of the methods for treating Viral Gastroenteritis :

  • The treatment of rotavirus diarrhea is based primarily on replacing fluids and electrolytes, as directed by the estimated degree of dehydration
  • Administering antiemetics and antidiarrheal agents to small children is not recommended.
  • Dehydration can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting, excessive urination, excessive sweating, or by not drinking enough fluids because of nausea, difficulty swallowing, or loss of appetite.
  • Follow the written directions on the ORS package, and use clean or boiled water medications, including antibiotics (which have no effect on viruses) and other treatments, should be avoided unless specifically recommended by a physician.
  • Nonprescription medicine is available for the treatment of diarrhea and can be very effective.
  • Several studies have shown that antirotavirus immunoglobulin, as pooled gamma globulin, bovine colostrum, or human milk, may decrease frequency and duration of diarrhea
  • Small studies have suggested that zinc supplements may reduce the severity and duration of illness.