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Posted : 2012-04-01 18:20
Updated : 2012-04-01 18:20

Prevention of viral gastroenteritis


Viral enteritis is an infection of the stomach and intestine that causes diarrhea and vomiting.
By Lim Ju-won

Viral enteritis is an infection of the stomach and intestine that causes diarrhea and vomiting.

The symptoms usually appear suddenly. Viral enteritis also causes fever, abdominal pain or cramps and loss of appetite.

If a person suffers from diarrhea and severe vomiting, their body loses a lot of water so that they become dehydrated. Dehydration makes them feel thirsty,
tired, or dizzy.

Severe dehydration can be life-threatening, so patients suffering from this need re-hydrationtreatment in hospital.

Causes

Norovirus is the main cause of viral gastroenteritis, which is a common illness affecting all age groups at all times of the year. Norovirus is the most common cause in adults and rotavirus is the leading cause in infants and young children.

Prevention

The following are recommended for prevention of the virus:

— Wash hands frequently.Use soap after using the bathroom or changing a baby’s diaper, and make sure to clean hands before you eat or drink.

— Wash raw fruits and vegetables before consumption.

— Wash knives and cutting boards after handling food.

— Do not eat raw food.

— Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for over 2 hours.

— Refrigerate foods promptly.

Treatment

Most patients with viral gastroenteritis are treated by rehydration. Oral rehydration is most effective but fluids can be supplemented intravenously in cases of severe dehydration.

Antiviral agents are not available for treatment, and antibiotics are unnecessary because this is not a bacterial infection.

The following are recommended for treatment:

— Drink enough fluids to get hydrated. Sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions that are sold in stores or pharmacies are recommended.

— Eat boiled starch, breads, fruits, and vegetables if you can, but not too much.

— Avoid drinking juice or soda because these make diarrhea worse, leading to more dehydration.

— Avoid food with lots of fat or sugar that can worsen symptoms.

— Do not take anti-diarrhea medication such as loperamide to stop diarrhea because it can make the infection last longer.

When to see a doctor?

If symptoms are not severe, people do not need to visit a doctor. Symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting may begin to improve within 48 hours.

However, if they have one or more of the following signs or symptoms, they should see a doctor.

— Diarrhea or vomiting lasts longer than 2 to 3 days

— Diarrhea is bloody and lack

— Feel severe abdominal pain

— Have fever over 38.5 degrees Celsius

— Can’t drink anything during the daytime

— Can’t urinate in a few hours (symptom of severe dehydration) The writer is an Assistant Professor at Seoul National University Hospital International Healthcare Center (SNUH—IHC).

The writer is an Assistant Professor at Seoul National University Hospital International Healthcare Center (SNUH—IHC).

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