Learn about the causes of Gastroenteritis (stomach flu) & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Gastroenteritis (stomach flu) within New Zealand.
Gastroenteritis (stomach flu) is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines from infection or irritation. Symptoms of gastroenteritis include vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, fever and fatigue. Gastroenteritis can be caused by virus or bacteria (e.g. food poisoning) and typically lasts for three to four days. Gastroenteritis from viral infection is highly contagious.
Gastroenteritis is an infection of the intestines and stomach which affects the body's ability to absorb water and distribute it. This leads to the common symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting which occurs because of excess fluids in the intestine.
Gastroenteritis is typically caused by either the norovirus, eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water or as a side-effect of taking antibiotics.
Noroviruses, often referred to as 'winter vomiting virus', is the common cause of viral gastroenteritis and usually affects environments such as hospitals and schools where the virus can spread easily and survive for several days.
A norovirus can be passed on either through direct contact with an infected person, touching a surface or objects which are contaminated with the virus or by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.
Food poisoning is the common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis but can also cause viral gastroenteritis. Food can become contaminated in a variety of ways such as not cooking meat properly or storing food at the wrong temperature (especially meat, eggs, milk and butter). Food that has been washed in dirty water or food that has been handled by someone with the infection who has failed to wash their hands properly can also become contaminated.
Any incident of suspected food poisoning from eating at a public restaurant or food premises should be reported to the local Environmental Health Office.
Drinking water contaminated with human or animal faeces is a major cause of gastroenteritis in African and South Asian countries but less of a risk in the UK.
Taking antibiotics can kill the bacteria in the stomach and intestine which help to fight infections. Without these 'friendly bacteria' the body is susceptible to the bacteria that cause gastroenteritis.
The symptoms of gastroenteritis usually appear within 48 hours of infection and typically last two to three days. In the majority of cases, symptoms will be mild and include:
Anyone suffering with gastroenteritis is likely to become dehydrated which is a potentially fatal problem if left untreated. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the effects of dehydration when infected.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
The majority of cases of gastroenteritis will resolve themselves in two to three days and the symptoms will be mild therefore a diagnosis from a GP will not be necessary.
However, if symptoms are severe, or last for more than a few days, then visit your GP. It may be necessary to take a stool, urine or blood sample to identify a specific bacteria or rule out other underlying conditions such as UTIs (urinary tract infections) or pneumonia.
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