Gastroenteritis

‘Gastro’, or the ‘stomach flu’ is a common infection of the stomach and intestines that usually results in vomiting, diarrhoea or both.

It can be caused by a number of different viruses such as rotavirus (a lot less now since the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine) or norovirus. It can also be caused by bacteria, toxins, parasites and some non-infectious diseases.

What are the symptoms?

Commonly the symptoms are vomiting and watery diarrhoea.

You can also have;

  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain or cramps (usually relieved by diarrhoea)
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches

Dehydration can follow this.
Symptoms often take 2-3 days to develop, and last another 1-2 days. This can be longer though.

How is it diagnosed?

Usually through a medical history and examination. However if you know other people with similar symptoms and you didn’t eat the same food, then it’s likely to be viral gastro.

In people who have travelled overseas, or are getting symptoms longer than expected we may perform blood or stool tests to see what’s causing it.

What’s the treatment? I want to feel better!

The type of treatment does depend on the cause, but in most cases includes;

  • Plenty of fluids
  • Oral rehydration solutions (like hydrolyte or gastrolyte)
  • Intravenous fluid replacement if dehydration is severe or if there’s excessive vomiting and diarrhoea (we can arrange this at Green Square Health)
  • Antibiotics or anti parasitics if we suspect there is a bacterial or parasite cause
  • In severe cases anti nausea medication to allow rehydration – this will be prescribed by us if needed

How do you prevent it?

In children aged 2 and 4 months we give them the rotavirus vaccination, and this can help the entire family be protected.

However if someone already has gastro the following measures should be adopted;

  • Washing hands thoroughly and often after
  • going to the toilet
  • Changing nappies
  • Smoking
  • Using a handkerchief or tissue
  • Handling animals
  • Before preparing food
  • Before eating
  • Use disposable paper towels instead of hand cloths
  • Do not handle raw and cooked foods with the same instruments unless thoroughly washed
  • Keep all kitchen surfaces and equipment clean
  • Keep cold food cold (< 5 °C) and hot food hot (> 60 °C)
  • Make sure food is thoroughly cooked
  • Clean the toilet and bathroom regularly
  • Clean baby change tables regularly
  • When travelling overseas and sanitation is suspect, only drink bottled water. Use this to brush your teeth, avoid buffets, uncooked foods or peeled fruits, or ice in drinks.

I’m sick, what do I do?

Come in and see us so we can make sure you’re not excessively dehydrated, and ensure you recover as soon as possible.

Please let our reception know you may have gastro so we can provide you with some privacy and comfort, a vomit bag if needed, and let people who are immunocompromised or pregnant know so they don’t become unwell.

It’s never fun getting gastro, so let’s get you feeling better.

Our Specialties

Green Square Health provides a range of services to fulfil the needs of our community.
Please find more information on the pages below about our services and tips on how to stay healthy.