Gastrointestinal Influenza: What to do?

Gastrointestinal influenza (gastroenteritis) is usually triggered by viruses - such as noroviruses or rotaviruses. Typical symptoms of such an infection include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, abdominal, head and body aches can occur. In healthy adults, a medical treatment is rarely necessary, usually the gastrointestinal flu sounds off again after a few days. Caution should be exercised with young children and the elderly. Read here which home remedies help with a gastrointestinal flu and what options there are to prevent such an infection.

Viruses as a cause

A gastrointestinal flu can have many causes. As a rule, viruses, and more rarely bacteria or parasites, are the trigger. If there is a viral infection, Noroviruses or rotaviruses are particularly common behind the symptoms.

In the case of an infection with norovirus, the course of the disease is often particularly severe. Especially in older people, the large fluid loss can lead to severe circulatory problems. Noroviruses are extremely contagious - a risk of infection is given up to 48 hours after the last symptoms have resolved. Sometimes noroviruses are also excreted weeks later, so that infection is still possible.

In children, a gastrointestinal infection is often triggered by rotaviruses. The viruses are considered the most common diarrhea in children under five years. Meanwhile, there is a vaccine against the virus, however, a vaccine is only possible until the completion of the 6th month of life.

Gastrointestinal Influenza is contagious

A gastrointestinal flu is highly contagious: Usually, the transmission of the pathogens occurs through a smear infection. The pathogens from vomit or stool reach other objects. They can reach other people's hands and from there into the mouth (fecal-oral transmission). Once the pathogens have reached the body, they can also trigger a gastrointestinal flu in the affected person.

In addition, infection is also possible by droplet infection. In the process, the viruses transmit themselves directly to another person during vomiting via the air. Furthermore, infection can also occur via the drinking water or contaminated food. However, this is more likely in countries with lower standards of hygiene. After infection, it takes between four and 48 hours for the first symptoms of gastrointestinal flu to show itself (incubation period).

Gastrointestinal Influenza: Typical Symptoms

A gastrointestinal flu is usually very uncomfortable, many sufferers feel flabby and miserable during the disease phase. The pathogens cause inflammation of the mucous membranes in the gastrointestinal tract, which is typically associated with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. In this way the body tries to get rid of the pathogens as fast as possible. Both symptoms can occur together, but also individually.

Usually a gastroenteritis starts relatively suddenly. In addition to diarrhea and vomiting, it can also cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, abdominal cramping and nausea, as well as headache and body aches. From time to time, fever can also occur. Which symptoms in the context of a gastrointestinal flu exactly occur, is always dependent on the particular pathogen.

Effective home remedy for gastrointestinal influenza

With a gastrointestinal flu, no medication is usually needed. As a rule, the symptoms resolve themselves after a period of two to six days.

However, the healing process can be supported by the use of various home remedies:

  • It is particularly important that you treat yourself to enough peace. The body needs its power to fight the pathogens. Take good care of yourself - it's best to stay in bed.
  • An old home remedy for treating diarrhea is healing clay as it binds the toxins in the intestine. Just put two teaspoons of healing clay in half a liter of water or tea. Then drink the liquid in small sips.
  • Alternatively, a knife tip (no more!) Grated nutmeg can help against diarrhea.
  • For nausea and vomiting, teas in peppermint and ginger varieties are recommended. They calm the stomach and eliminate the nausea.
  • Similarly, an angelica root tea can help alleviate the discomfort.

Treat gastrointestinal flu with medication

In severe cases, a drug treatment may be necessary:

  • For severe diarrhea, medicines containing loperamide, activated charcoal and astringents can help.
  • In case of bacterial pathogens the administration of antibiotics may be useful.
  • If the infection is associated with severe vomiting, antiemetics can help alleviate nausea.

However, always stop taking medicines with your family doctor. Whether and which drugs should be taken depends on the type of pathogen.

Gastrointestinal Influenza: When to the doctor?

If the disease lasts longer than two to three days, you should always consult a doctor. This is also true if in addition to vomiting and diarrhea there is still high fever or blood in the stool. The doctor can check whether the symptoms are caused by dangerous pathogens such as Salmonella.

In the case of a baby or elderly person, a doctor should be consulted early in case of gastroenteritis. It may be necessary to balance the loss of water and salt with an infusion.

Proper nutrition for gastrointestinal flu

Proper nutrition plays an important role in gastrointestinal influenza: especially with severe diarrhea or vomiting, there are major water and salt losses. These must be compensated by the diet again. At the same time it is also important not to irritate the already attacked stomach even further.

It is best to drink only mineral water or unsweetened herbal teas at the beginning. On the other hand, the old home remedy "Coke and Pretzel Sticks" should be better avoided by children. More suitable are special electrolyte solutions from the pharmacy. By contrast, adults can nibble on a few pretzel sticks. This compensates primarily for the sodium loss. In addition, to replenish the potassium storage, in addition, some banana is recommended.

If vomiting subsides, you can gently feed the body again. Do not start with a big meal right now, but rather with a few spoons and see how your body reacts to the food. Well suited are, among other rusks and clear soups.

Gastrointestinal Influenza: Protect against infection

Gastroenteritis can not be prevented in every case. However, certain behavioral measures can reduce the risk of infection:

  • Avoid contact with sick persons: If a person is ill in your household, you should follow strict hygiene measures.
  • Wash your hands regularly: Take enough soap and wash your hands for about 30 seconds. Only then is the number of pathogens on the hands significantly reduced. Also, avoid putting your hands over your face as much as possible.
  • Caution when cooking: To avoid contamination by contaminated food, you should always thoroughly cook fish, meat and seafood. Clean all kitchen utensils that have come into contact with the raw meat or fish, then carefully.
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