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Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis (sometimes called "stomach flu") is an irritation or infection of the lining of the digestive tract, most often the intestines. It can be caused by certain viruses, bacteria and parasites or by the ingestion of food borne toxins (food poisoning).

Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, sometimes with crampy stomach pains. It is usually a brief self-limited illness, but it can be prolonged or severe. Since treatment can vary depending on whether a specific cause is found, it is very important to follow the instructions provided by the urgent care staff.

Home Care for Gastroenteritis

  • Drink clear liquids (water, flat 7-Up, sports drinks, Pedialyte, etc.) in small amounts and as frequently as 8-10 times per hour. Avoid salty broth or high sugar drinks or juices. If vomiting occurs just after taking some liquids, try drinking again after about half an hour and increase the volume gradually. These measures are very important to prevent dehydration, especially in children.

  • When vomiting and diarrhea stop or after 24 hrs. of clear liquids proper nutrition becomes important and you should slowly start to add solid foods. You may try the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast), or low residue foods such as crackers, baked potatoes, noodles, sugar cookies or even low-fat milk products. Avoid spicy, greasy or high fat foods.

  • Prescription medications are seldom useful in gastroenteritis, particularly in children. We may recommend some safe remedies, and if so, take them as directed. Do not share them.

  • Gastroenteritis is usually contagious so maintain proper bathroom and kitchen hygiene.

  • You should be feeling considerably better in 48-72 hours although occasionally some symptoms can persist up to 5-7 days. Contact your personal physician if you are not improving as expected, or if you have a relapse or recurrence of illness. If you do not have a physician we will be glad to assist you in finding one.

 

Call or Return If Any of the Following Occur:

  • Inability to keep down any liquids for 8 hours with persisting diarrhea

  • Children or infants that lose attentiveness or desire to drink

  • Fever over 103°F in children or over 101°F in adults

  • Feeling extremely faint or lightheaded when standing up

  • Increasing or severe abdominal pain

  • Blood or mucous in the stool

  • Vomiting that appears grainy brown or bloody

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