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Gastroenteritis Symptoms and Natural Remedies

Updated on April 1, 2010


How to know if you have just a stomach bug, or gastroenteritis, symptoms and natural remedies to relieve either.

Commonly referred to as stomach flu, this is a mistake as flu is a virus of the respiratory system, affecting throat, lungs and nose.

Gastroenteritis attacks the intestines, causing vomiting, or diarrhoea, or both. It can come with muscle pain and headaches, and even a low grade fever, which would explain why some people label it 'flu' .

It is possible to have the virus for up to 3 days, before you see any symptoms. These symptoms usually only last one or two days, but have been known to hang around up to 10 days.

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Symptoms and Natural Remedies

You should be careful because symptoms to gastroenteritis are very similar to those that come with bacteria like salmonella or E. coli.

You should definitely call a doctor:

If you can't even keep down liquids after 24 hours

If you've been vomiting for more than 48 hours

If there is blood in your vomit or in your bowel movements

If your fever is above 104° f or 40° c

If you're dehydrated.

Signs of dehydration are: excessive thirst, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, or urine of a dark yellow colour, dizziness.

Viral gastroenteritis can be caught from contaminated food, or water. It can also be contracted from someone else who's infected, merely by sharing food, utensils, or towels. The most common way to contract the virus is from eating food that is handled by someone who neglected to wash their hands after visiting the bathroom.

There is really no medical treatment for viral gastroenteritis, most pills wouldn't stay in your system long enough to begin with, antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, and could possibly make it worse, as antibiotics will kill the good bacteria along with the bad, leaving you more unprotected, and the only thing to be done really is to wash all the contamination from your digestive system.

Drinking water is the most effective way to ensure this.

If however, you can't keep liquids down either, try sucking on chips of ice, or just very small sips of water.

Clear lemonade, 7-Up or Sprite are helpful too, as are sports drinks like Gatorade, with electrolytes, but make sure they are caffeine free.

When you can take liquids, drink as much as you can. Small amounts but frequently.

And when you feel you need to eat, try tiny bits at a time, of very plain foods like boiled rice, plain crackers, dry toast. Take little bites, wait for each bit to settle in your stomach before you try again, and when you can keep these things down, you can go on to plain chicken and bananas. The minute you feel nauseous, stop eating at once.

DO NOT eat dairy products, fatty or spicy foods, don't drink alcohol, cola, or any caffeine, or sugar, and stay away from nicotine.

Make sure you get plenty of rest as dehydration will tire you out and make you very weak.

If a teenager or child has gastroenteritis, don't give them aspirin, as it can cause Reyes syndrome (a rare disease, but can be fatal)

Natural remedies:

One of nature's best remedies for diarrhoea is yoghurt. Plain unsweetened yoghurt contains the good bacteria that your intestines need, and help with food digestion.

Yoghurt will also help the body to prepare itself for rich foods and dairy products once you to start to eat again.

Apple is another good thing to eat once your body will accept food, they are another great aid to preparing your body to accept normal foods again.

Fruit and herbal infusions are a great relief in cases of diarrhoea. If you buy them prepared, make sure they're caffeinated, and don't contain tea.

Better still make your own. Take some of mother nature's medicines for diarrhoea, all those wonderful herbs and fruits:

Ginger, oregano, chamomile, persimmons, blackberries, and allow them to steep in boiling water about five minutes. Strain the liquid and allow to cool. Drink a glass every two hours or so, until your stomach settles.

The juice of an orange, diluted in water and with a pinch of salt, makes a good liquid to help with the hydrating process.

The juice of a fresh lime added to hot water also helps. Drink a little 3 or 4 times an hour, this will also help enormously.

Ground nutmeg, if you can take it dry on a teaspoon, will help calm your symptoms. If you can't take it this way, add it to one of your infusions.

Fresh Ginger too, if you can take a little grated, eaten fresh or taken in water, as well as in infusion.


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