Gastroenteritis - Experience

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Definition of gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis (often referred to as the "stomach flu," however, it is not related to the influenza virus. Gastroenteritis is a nonspecific term for various inflammatory problems in the gastrointestinal tract with the most common symptoms and signs being diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pains.

As previously mentioned, although it is not caused by influenza viruses, gastroenteritis  is commonly referred to as the "stomach flu" because most people have acute symptoms that last a day or so, and then begin to resolve, like the symptoms of more benign flu strains. In the U.S., less than 2% of the estimated 100 million persons with gastroenteritis symptoms per year ever require hospitalization, but in developing countries it is a leading cause of death, mainly due to dehydration. Severe gastroenteritis can cause dehydration. Also, people with symptoms of diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, fever greater than 101 F (38.33 C) for longer than 5 days, or have severe infection (sepsis), and other problems will be considered to have another disease (for example, shigellosis). Not all doctors agree on the nonspecific term of gastroenteritis so for this article, the parameters are presented that comprise the causes and symptoms that many researchers consider to occur with gastroenteritis.

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Comment from: Female (Patient) Published: November 30

I went to an adult birthday party on Friday night. I had a little fresh guacamole with onion, cilantro and a spoonful of salsa, no alcohol, chips, cake, etc. My stomach began hurting at the party and I thought it was the strong tasting onions. I threw up every bit of the guacamole when I got home. I started getting very painful sharp stomach cramps. I had trouble keeping any liquids down. The next day I took my temperature and it was 103.3, and by Saturday night it was 103.9. For the next 5 days my temperature stayed between 103 and 103.9. I alternately shivered uncontrollably and sweated so bad may bedding and clothes were soaked. I began sleeping naked with towels under me and extra sheets so I didn't have to remake the bed. I still had to switch between 2 beds to let one dry out. I never had any diarrhea, just normal bowel movements. I got quite dizzy when I stood up, which was not often. I ate a little steel-cut oats with milk and a cup of warm milk for breakfast the 3rd day and a couple of poached eggs for dinner. That's what I had every day for about a week. My sense of smell became very sensitive. Any chemical sort of smell made me nauseous. I took Advil, about 6 each day, and Excedrin once a day for a headache. I began taking probiotics and digestive enzymes which seemed to make the cramps less intense. Throughout the illness I drank a lot of water and herbal teas (echinaceae and ginger). On day 6 my fever was 102 and day seven it was normal. My stomach continued to ache for another 2 weeks and I continued the probiotics and enzymes. I began eating meat and salads and vegetable juice (self-made). I never have stomach/gastrointestinal trouble and am amazingly regular. I only have one chronic health problem; I am hypothyroid and take Westhroid for that. I had no flu or cold symptoms. It has been 2 weeks now and I'm still exhausted. No energy at all. Not sick, but extremely tired all day. No one at the party got any kind of food poisoning so I have discounted food poisoning. I didn't go to the hospital because I just knew I'd get subjected to a bunch of radiation and then be given a bunch of drugs. Also I don't want to take a chance of getting some antibiotic resistant bug at the hospital. I think I did what I needed to do. Rest, probiotics, digestive enzymes, soaking in sea salt baths, oil pulling with coconut oil, lots of hydration with herbal teas. Very light meals. I also drank some Kombucha every day for the probiotics. I lost about 6 pounds. This is the sickest I've been in decades and I have no idea where this bug came from. I am being a lot more careful about washing my hands now as I probably got it from a door handle or shopping cart. I eat 99 percent of my meals at home because I don't like taking chances with restaurant food. I hope my energy picks up in another week.

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Comment from: Scientia, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: January 26

I thought I had overeaten or had food poisoning at first when my stomach was upset was getting worse by the hour. Then I started vomiting, which I don't think I've done in almost a decade. Food poisoning is supposed to go away when you empty your stomach of everything, but the nausea and pain continued for several hours after. I had a couple minor instances of diarrhea, but for the most part I couldn't pass anything from that end. In addition I had the worst chills I've ever had, and was so exhausted and in pain I could barely stand, but I couldn't sleep either. What made me finally decide to go to the hospital (even though I had the gastroenteritis symptoms for less than 12 hours) was when I couldn't even hold down water. Food wasn't even an option, but all I was doing was drinking water and after 15 minutes or so I would be throwing up again; and my vomit was almost entirely water. Waiting it out didn't feel like an option seeing as I couldn't even stay hydrated. When I went to the hospital it actually took the nurses half a dozen tries to get the IV needle in my arm because my veins were so collapsed from dehydration. I was given painkillers and medication for nausea, and I was finally able to sleep for a few hours. They ran some tests and I was released after about 3 hours with prescriptions for anti-nausea medications. I went home and slept, and I'm on day 2 of this illness now.

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