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What is a gastroenteritis?

Gastroenteritis is a condition that causes the stomach and intestines to become inflamed. This may commonly be caused by a number of viruses. Bacteria are can also be implicated in the cause.

What causes it?

Gastroenteritis can be caused by one of a few different viruses. Rotavirus is quite common in young children. It is easily spread from person to person in water and food that has been infected with the virus. Hence proper hand washing techniques are important when a person has symptoms of the disease. The current South African immunisation schedule includes a vaccine against rotavirus.

What are the symptoms?

What are the symptoms? Some common symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, fever, stomach cramps and loss of appetite.

One of the major concerns of the condition is dehydration, which can occur if symptoms go untreated. If your child becomes lethargic, has decrease in passage of urine, or has blood in his or her stool, or diarrhoea associated with fever, please consult with Dr Moodley as soon as possible, as dehydration can be very dangerous in young children.

How can the condition be treated?

Gastroenteritis can be treated with proper oral rehydration which consists of drinking a specialised solution made up of salt and sugar which will assist in replenishing the fluids and essential chemicals that are lost during profuse diarrhoea.

A stool sample may be required to check what type of virus or bacteria your child has been infected with. Antibiotics may be required should the cause of the diarrhoea be bacterial.

If your child is severely dehydrated, your child may be admitted for administration of fluids via a drip.



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