The stomach flu, also known as gastroenteritis, is a very common condition. It is marked by an inflammation of the gastric or intestinal linings, and two of the main symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting.
The stomach flu can be caused by a number of pathogens, like bacteria, virus, or parasites. However, the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis are viruses (cause 50-70% of gastroenteritis). The main causes of acute viral gastroenteritis in children are rotavirus (group A), calicivirus (i.e. norovirus), astrovirus, and adenovirus. In adults and children, epidemic viral gastroenteritis is most commonly caused by caliciviruses (i.e. Norovirus). Few studies have examined the most common causes of sporadic viral gastroenteritis in adults. The most common species that cause bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide include, Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia coli, and Campylobacter.
The stomach flu is very contagious, and it’s important that you avoid being in close situations with others if you don’t want to spread it. Make sure to follow through with basic hygienic practices like washing your hands to prevent the spread of disease.
Symptom #1: Diarrhea
One of the most common symptoms of the stomach flu is diarrhea. The World Health Organization defines diarrheas as 3 or more loose stools per day. Diarrhea can be entirely liquid or semi-liquid, and it tends to occur at a much higher frequency than regular bowel movements. The presence of bloody stools can indicate a more serious condition and the patient affected should seek immediate medical care.
Diarrhea is a sign that food is not being digested before being passed through the body, in this case because there is an inflammatory or disruptive infectious process in the gut. There can be bits of undigested food in the stool. Diarrhea is also a sign that your body is not absorbing the nutrients that it needs, so its important to take measures to ensure that you repair any nutritional imbalances that arise during your flu. Most importantly, excessive diarrhea can lead to dehydration. It is important for the patient to remain hydrated, by drinking plenty of fluids. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, excessive thirst, concentrated or deep yellow urine, little or no urine output, severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness.