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GASTROENTERITIS

If you or someone appears weak and dizzy while standing, dehydration  is possible. If you cannot drink fluids, but continue to lose fluids through fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, you should call your doctor. If you appear sleepy or unaware, you should definitely be taken to a doctor or hospital's emergency department.

  • If you have any questions or uncertainty, call or see your doctor.
  • If you have any of the following symptoms, go to a hospital's Emergency Department:
    • Blood in the vomit or stool
    • Vomiting that lasts more than 48 hours
    • Fever higher than 101°F
    • Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain  in the right lower part of the abdomen
    • dehydrated (check for little to no urination, extreme thirst, lack of tears, and dry mouth)
Self-Care at Home

The mainstay of home treatment of gastroenteritis is to drink fluids. Fluid intake helps correct electrolyte imbalance, which may stop vomiting.

  • dehydrated in children: Children should be given oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte, Rehydrate, ORS, and Rice-Lyte.
    • Cola, tea, fruit juice, and sports drinks will not correctly replace fluid or electrolytes lost from diarrhea or vomiting. Nor will plain water. The intestines irritated by gastroenteritis do not absorb plain water as well. In addition, plain water will not replace electrolytes and may dilute electrolytes to the point of Seizures .
    • After each loose stool, children younger than 2 years should be given 1-3 ounces of any of the rehydration solutions. Older children should be asked to drink 3-8 ounces. Adults should drink as much as possible.
    • This guideline serves only to replace fluid loss due to diarrhea . Drink additional fluid equal to the amount you normally drink.
    • In underdeveloped nations or regions without available commercial pediatric drinks, the World Health Organization has established a field recipe for fluid rehydration: Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar (or honey) with ¼ teaspoon of table salt and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. (Baking soda may be substituted with ¼ teaspoon of table salt.) Mix in 1 liter (1 qt) of clean or previously boiled water.
    • You will need solid foods eventually to help end the diarrhea . After 24 hours, begin to offer bland foods with the BRAT diet—bananas, rice, applesauce without sugar, toast, pasta, or potatoes.
  • dehydrated in adults: Although adults and adolescents have a larger electrolyte reserve than children, electrolyte imbalance and dehydrated may still occur as fluid is lost through vomiting and diarrhea . Severe symptoms and dehydrated usually develop as complications of medication use or chronic disease such as diabetes or kidney failure. But symptoms may occur in healthy people.
    • Initially, adults should eat ice chips and clear, noncaffeinated, nondairy liquids such as Gatorade, ginger ale, fruit juices, and Kool-Aid or other commercial drink mixes.
    • After 24 hours of fluid diet without vomiting, begin a soft-bland solid diet such as the BRAT diet.
Prevention

With most infectious germs, the key is to block the spread of the organism.

  • Always wash your hands.
  • Eat properly prepared and stored food.
  • Bleach soiled laundry.
  • Vaccinations for Salmonella typhi, Vibrio cholerae, and rotavirus have been developed. But doctors base their use on your medical and foreign travel history.
  • For lactose intolerance, supplementary enzymes are available over-the-counter for adolescents and adults to aid digestion of milk sugars. Soy formulas and other lactose-free products are available from most grocery stores for formula-feeding infants.

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