Gastroenteritis Treatment Clinic Questions and Answers
If you are suffering from gastroenteritis, visit Columbia Clinic Urgent Care and get comprehensive treatment from our professionals. For more information, call us or book an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Portland OR, Clackamas OR and Tigard OR.
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There are two forms of gastroenteritis, viral and bacterial, the most common of which is viral gastroenteritis, also known as a stomach virus or the stomach flu. Bacterial gastroenteritis is also known as food poisoning and affects approximately 48 million people in the U.S. each year.
Gastroenteritis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, bacterial toxins, parasites, certain chemicals, and some drugs.
Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) is caused by a virus attacking the digestive system. There are a number of viruses that can be responsible, but the most common are Norovirus, Rotavirus, Adenovirus, and Astrovirus. This form of gastroenteritis is highly contagious and is spread through improper handwashing (especially by food handlers), contaminated water, or eating undercooked or raw shellfish caught in contaminated waters.
Bacterial gastroenteritis (food poisoning) is caused by cross-contamination of organisms due to improper food handling. Food recalls are often a result of outbreaks of bacterial gastroenteritis caused by contaminated food being served in restaurants or sold in grocery stores. Many bacteria can be responsible for causing bacterial gastroenteritis including:
Yersinia, found in pork
– Staphylococcus, found in meat, eggs, and dairy products
– Shigella, found in water and frequently swimming pools
– Salmonella found in dairy products, eggs, and meat
– Campylobacter, found in meat and poultry
– E.coli, found in salads and minced beef
Since the symptoms of both types of gastroenteritis are similar, they can often get confused.
Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, which usually appear one or two days after infection and can last between one to ten days, include:
– Nausea and vomiting
– Headache, muscle aches, or joint aches
– Fever or chills
– Sweating or clammy skin
– Abdominal cramps and pain
– Lloss of appetite
Certain viruses responsible for viral gastroenteritis also have their own set of symptoms:
– Norovirus: nausea, diarrhea, fever, body aches
– Rotavirus: vomiting, loss of appetite, watery diarrhea lasting between three to eight days.
– Adenovirus: sore throat, pink eye, fever, coughing, runny nose.
– Astrovirus: diarrhea, headache, mild dehydration, stomach pain
Symptoms of bacterial gastroenteritis again vary depending on the bacteria causing it and include:
– Loss of appetite
– Nausea and vomiting
– Abdominal pain and cramps
– Blood in the stools
You should seek emergency medical treatment if:
– Diarrhea has lasted for three days or more without improving
– There is blood in the diarrhea
– You are seeing signs of dehydration, such as dizziness or dry lips.
– A child’s eyes have a sunken appearance, or they don’t produce tears when they cry.
The short answer is, yes, both forms of gastroenteritis can be highly contagious. A person with a stomach virus is contagious from the onset of symptoms to a few days after they recover. A stomach virus can be spread by consuming food or drink contaminated with the virus or by having direct or indirect mouth contact with a contaminated surface or person.
In the case of bacterial gastroenteritis or food poisoning, those caused by certain bacteria, viruses, or parasites are contagious, but not so if it is as a result of chemicals or toxins.
Telling the difference between the two isn’t always easy, but there are clues. The main symptom of a viral infection is usually watery diarrhea, free of blood or mucous; conversely, mucous and blood are more often seen in diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection. Stool samples and blood tests can be taken and analyzed to confirm which of the two types it is.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding gastroenteritis, its causes, or treatment, contact Columbia Clinic Urgent Care today! We serve patients from Portland OR, PDX, Happy Valley OR, Tigard OR, Milwaukie OR, Cedar Hills OR, Cedar Mill OR, Lake Oswego OR, Oak Grove OR, Vancouver WA, Aloha OR, Minnehaha WA, Gladstone OR, Tualatin OR, West Linn OR, Fairview OR, Oregon City OR.