stomach Infection

The term stomach infection is a generic term used to describe any infection of the gastrointestinal tract. A viral or bacterial infection causing inflammation of the lining of stomach, large and small intestines leads to diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and nausea. In severe infections, bloody stools and dehydration follows. The patient feels listless, has no appetite, has low grade fever and headaches and may lose weight rapidly if the infection is not treated.  Bacterial infection is detected through tests such as breath test, stool test and blood test.


What causes Stomach Infection?


Stomach infections may be caused by any of the following:


1.    Viruses – Viruses from the Notavirus and Sapovirus cause 60 percent of all stomach infections.


2.    Bacteria- Salmonella, E coli and Staphylococcus cause most bacterial infections. These bacteria proliferate in various food items and pass on to the gastro intestinal tract where they multiply. Helicobacter pylori, otherwise known as H. pylori, is a bacterium commonly found in the stomach. Those suffering from ulcers should get tested for H pylori infection.


3.    Parasites- Parasites like Endameba and Giardia pass to the gastrointestinal tract through contaminated water.


4.    Toxins- Algal and mercury content in water pass on to human beings through fish products and cause food poisoning.


5.    Food allergens- Common food allergen are dairy products, nuts , shellfish and eggs etc.


6.    Medications- Strong antibiotics destroy the friendly bacteria in the human gut. Digestion is adversely affected and diarrhea is often the side effect of strong medications.


Stomach infections are contagious if viral or bacterial in origin and may spread among people living in cramped conditions. It spreads due to lack of personal hygiene in people handling food items. Stomach infections are spread by parasite if food items are washed in contaminated water. Stomach Infections causing dehydration are serious in case of children, elderly people and people with impaired immune systems.


Immediate medical advice should be sought if the patient suffers from stomach infections for over 3 days and shows any of the following signs of dehydration:


1.    Impaired urine production  

2.    Dry mouth and inability to produce saliva and tears

3.    Dry skin

4.    Low blood pressure and listlessness.


Treatment of stomach infection


Stomach Infections can be treated after detecting the cause of infection, whether viral, bacterial or parasitic in origin. The patient should be put on a semi solid diet and should stay well hydrated.


Prevention of stomach Infections


1.    Wash hands thoroughly before eating and handling food items

2.    Clothes worn by people suffering from stomach infections should be laundered and disinfected

3.    Undercooked food items containing meat, untreated water and raw food items  should be avoided

4.    Milk should be pasteurized before use

5.    Fruits and vegetable should be thoroughly washed before use.

6.    While travelling bottled water should be used for drinking and rinsing.

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