Gastroenteritis is a disease of the gastrointestinal tract, specifically the stomach as well as the small intestines. There is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and infection caused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, as well as parasites.
Most people recover from gastroenteritis, but people with weak as well as compromised immune systems though tend to suffer more from the symptoms of gastroenteritis. Complications could also develop, worsening the patient’s condition, and prolonging his healing and recovery.
The most common symptoms of gastroenteritis are vomiting as well as diarrhea. Sometimes, the diarrhea is bloody, and if this is the case, the patient could be suffering from a bacterial infection. Other symptoms include severe abdominal cramping, together with fever and easy fatigability. The patient also has headaches coupled with muscle aches and pains, poor appetite, and weight loss.
How Is It Transmitted?
Gastroenteritis can be transmitted through a variety of means, the most common of which is through the oral route wherein the person accidentally ingests contaminated food and water that contain the pathogens. Other modes of transmission are through poor hygiene and person-to-person contact. The disease can also be transmitted through airborne means, such as when an infected person coughs and his contaminated droplets circulate in the air.
One of the most common carriers of the pathogens that cause gastroenteritis is rats. They scavenge for their food anywhere, and they especially love dirty, smelly places such as garbage cans, dumpsters, sewers, crawlspaces, etc., places teeming with pathogenic organisms.
Because people rarely clean these areas, the pathogens are left free to flourish. Rats, as they scavenge for their food in these places, will pick these pathogens up. They will carry them into our homes, and contaminate everything they come into contact with, including food and water. This is how rats transmit the gastroenteritis-causing pathogens to humans. By allowing rats to invade and infest your home, you are increasing your risk as well as that of your family’s to gastroenteritis.
Dehydration is the most common complication of gastroenteritis. The patient cannot keep food and water down, so the body is losing nutrients and fluid fast. Because of fluid loss, dehydration occurs.
People, especially children, who are constantly suffering from gastroenteritis are usually malnourished. Growth stunting in children as well as cognitive delays are also present.
Gastroenteritis is usually self-limiting. This means that the symptoms will go away after a few days. The only treatment needed is oral rehydration therapy to prevent dehydration as well as medications for the abdominal pain and antiemetic for vomiting and antimotility medicine for diarrhea. Of note, antimotility meds are not given to febrile patients and patients with bloody diarrhea. Antibiotics are given only to those who are suffering from severe symptoms.
Gastroenteritis can easily be prevented by maintaining a clean home and garden. Cleanliness discourages pest infestation, so it can not only protect your home against rats and rodents but against insect pests as well. You should also block all the entryways that pests could easily slip through as well as make sure that your drains are covered. For severe pest infestation though, call your local pest control company for their services.