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Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis, also commonly and inaccurately known as the “stomach flu” or “stomach virus”, should not be confused with “influenza,” which exhibits similar symptoms of gastroenteritis, including headache, lethargy, muscle aches, and pains. Influenza does not involve the gastrointestinal tract; rather, it is an inflammation of the respiratory tract. Being highly contagious, influenza is usually obtained through person to person contact as well as being an air borne virus as opposed to a food or water borne illness. Gastroenteritis is due to inflammation in the stomach and intestinal region of the body resulting in a high fever of over 102F, vomiting, and diarrhea. Usually it is the result of eating rancid food, meat not thoroughly cooked, shellfish, some dairy products, and contaminated water as well as ill prepared food and food preparation items.


Contaminated food and water are one of the main culprits; however, there can be a number of other reasons for gastroenteritis. Recovery time depends on the immune system’s ability to fight off disease and infection, but usually between 1 and 6 days. Dehydration can set in if not enough fluids have been taken in the body which could have dangerous consequences. It is important to drink plenty of fluids. In severe cases it is appropriate to seek emergency care right away; blood in urine, vomit or stools, lack of fluids in eyes or mucous membranes as well as dry scaly skin and severe abdominal pain are all signs of a much more severe problem. Prevention of gastroenteritis is easily accomplished through everyday procedures including; washing your hands, washing off raw vegetables, cooking all meat thoroughly as well as proper preparation, handling and storage procedures of food products. It is also important to keep your distance with people whom you suspect may have had or currently have the flu as it can be highly contagious.


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