It can seem like the longest 24 hours of your life. The highly contagious Gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, is what AdventHealth Centra Care physicians are reporting as What’s Going Around right now.
The stomach flu is usually caused by an intestinal virus. You can catch it by hand-to-hand or hand-to-mouth contact with an infected person or by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. To prevent a new infection, wash your hands frequently, and do not share beverages or eating utensils. If it’s a child who is ill, parents need to be diligent about hand-washing, especially after using the bathroom, handling diapers and when handling or preparing food.
Abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and a low-grade fever are common symptoms of gastroenteritis. The illness often leads to dehydration. Infants and children are more likely to become dehydrated because they weigh less and their bodies turn over water and electrolytes quicker.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Low urine output
- No tears
- Sunken eyes
For mild cases of dehydration, drinking fluids is usually enough. Drink small amounts often, rather than forcing a large amount of fluid at one time. Water, electrolyte solutions or sports drinks are all acceptable options, but remember, sports drinks can contain a lot of sugar, which can cause or worsen diarrhea. For moderate to severe dehydration, intravenous fluids may be required.
The stomach flu is viral in nature so it can’t be treated with antibiotics, but Centra Care physicians can prescribe medication that can stop the vomiting, slow the diarrhea and prevent dehydration.