WHAT IS GASTROENTERITIS?

Gastro or gastroenteritis is usually a short-term illness triggered by the infection and inflammation of the digestive system.
Typical symptoms include a loss of appetite, feeling nauseous, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea.
While very unpleasant, most gastro bugs and symptoms pass in a few days.

What causes gastro?

Most gastroenteritis is caused by a virus. The norovirus, calicivirus and the rotavirus are the usual culprits.

Bacterial gastro comes from undercooked meat, particularly poultry, and is found in animal faeces. We get bacterial gastro from eating undercooked meats and not thoroughly washing hands after handling infected animals.

Some parasites can also cause gastro. The ‘giardia’ parasite can make its way into our system by drinking contaminated water, handling infected animals or changing the nappy of an infected baby and not washing your hands afterwards.

What to do?

The main concern with gastro is dehydration.  Drink plenty of fluids. Oral rehydration drinks like gastrolyte or hydrate are recommended. Sipping small amounts of fluids very regularly is a good strategy.

Anti-vomiting or anti-diarrhea drugs are not generally recommended as the bugs are better out of you rather than retaining them in your system.

Antibiotics will be needed if the cause of your gastro is bacterial.  Drugs will be needed if a parasite is a cause.  A GP will determine if these are needed, most likely following some investigations.