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: 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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Comment from: James, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: March 31

My case of gastroenteritis started off as norovirus (I'm pretty sure) about a week and a half ago. I began having mild stomach pains and during the night I threw up several times and over the next few days my stomach cramps became near unbearable. I had to visit the doctors twice with mixed results. I'm now on day 13 with yesterday being probably my best day so far after managing to go back to work. But I've now woken up feeling sick and have thrown up for the first time in nearly a week and the diarrhea is pretty nasty too, mixed with constipation! I feel sorry for anyone who has this illness, it's the most unwell I've felt possibly ever plus I've lost about a stone so feel a bit like a zombie!

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