Gastroenteritis is extremely common in Winter and Spring months. It is extremely contagious and is typically transmitted through close contact with an infected person. Bacterial gastroenteritis can also be transmitted through undercooked or unwashed foods. Additionally, foods that are cooked but stored improperly can harbor bacteria. If you think you may have gastroenteritis, call or visit AFC Urgent Care Methuen. Our physicians can help provide treatment options for both viral or bacterial gastroenteritis.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis
Depending on whether the illness is viral or bacterial can determine when symptoms show up. Viral can show up within one to three days, and bacterial can take up to four. Symptoms range in their severity. It can depend on the age and current health condition of the patient. Bacterial gastroenteritis typically resolves itself within a week. Symptoms include:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Abdominal pain
- Fever or chills
Since gastroenteritis is typically transmitted between people, there are a few ways to prevent yourself from catching it. Wash your hands before handling food and right before you are ready to eat. Use a separate cutting board for meat and poultry, and be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming. Avoid eating raw meat or foods and avoid unpasteurized milk. Store foods properly, such as refrigerating within two hours of cooking and storing meats at a proper temperature.
If a patient is already infected with gastroenteritis, there are additional precautions to take to avoid spreading it to others. This can include avoiding close contact with others and staying home from school or work while contagious. Wash your hands frequently to prevent contaminating items and surfaces. Do not handle or cook foods for others to eat.
Symptoms are typically resolved within a week. The largest potential complication is dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea. It’s important to stay hydrated and to try and replace minerals such as potassium and calcium. This can be done through drinking clear broths while sick. If the vomiting is too much and it is difficult to keep fluids down, it may be best to go to a hospital and receive an IV. In more severe cases, an antibiotic may be prescribed.
It is possible to speed up recovery by getting plenty of rest and drinking plenty of water. Avoid eating foods for a few hours to help settle the stomach, and slowly reintroduce easy-to-digest foods. This can include rice, bananas, and crackers. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or dairy as these are known to upset the stomach.