Gastroenteritis: These are the most common symptoms
Depending on where the mucous membrane is attacked in our digestive tract, the symptoms of gastroenteritis can vary greatly.
What are the symptoms of a gastrointestinal infection?
If viruses are the trigger for a gastrointestinal infection, doctors speak of infectious gastroenteritis. This usually sets in suddenly with the ingestion of the pathogens through food. The body tries to excrete the virus strains (often rotaviruses or noroviruses) or their toxic metabolic products via a defense reaction by flushing out.
Symptoms include nausea, strong nausea or gushing vomiting . Fever and loss of appetite, pain in the limbs, skin rash or mucus and blood in the stool can also occur as side effects. Get the pathogens continue into the small intestine or large intestine, patients suffer most under diarrhea (diarrhea). Our alarmed immune system tries to excrete the virus through bowel movements. A combination of these symptoms, i.e. vomiting diarrhea, is also possible.
Rather ambiguous side effects are abdominal cramps or muscle pain (myalgia). Those affected often complain of tiredness and headaches. The clinical symptoms usually subside after 12 to 48 hours.
During this time there is a high risk of infection because some of the pathogens, e.g. B. noroviruses, are very resistant. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) therefore also points out, for example, that there is an obligation to report suspected acute, infectious gastroenteritis , provided that the patient handles food or works in a communal catering facility such as a kitchen or restaurant. In addition, due to the rapid transferability and high risk of infection, according to the German Infection Protection Act, there is an obligation to report gastroenterides caused by the following pathogens:
- enterohemorrhagic coliform bacteria (EHEC)
- Salmonella Typhi
- Vibrio cholerae
- Norovirus (reporting only for direct evidence from stool)
When do you have to see a doctor?
If you have severe circulatory problems, muscle cramps, sleepiness, confusion or a high fever, if you have blood in your stool or vomiting diarrhea lasts longer than three days, you should urgently consult a doctor – even though you are actually healthy. Further risk groups are small children, pregnant women or the elderly who , in addition to weakened immune systems, quickly suffer from the consequences of the loss of salt and fluid caused by vomiting and diarrhea. This dehydration can quickly affect the circulatory system with side effects such as palpitations, low blood pressure and fatigue and, in the form of confusion, affect mental performance.
In more severe cases, the attending physician can use infusions to compensate for dehydration in the body. If nausea is a severe symptom, the doctor can also decide whether antiemetics can be used to suppress the nausea . Short-term hospitalization is only required in rare cases.
What to do about rotavirus and norovirus?
The Robert Koch Institute registers around 50,000 infections with the rotavirus in Germany. Rotaviruses are the most common cause of dehydrating diarrhea in children in the first two years of life . It is transmitted fecal-orally, which means that the pathogens usually get into the mouth via a smear infection from excrement. Rotavirus infection causes nausea and vomiting, and can also trigger a high fever. The good news: Rotavirus infection can be prevented by vaccination . It is particularly useful for small children, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system.
However, there is no vaccination against norovirus infections, which are also very common. Here, too, children, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system are particularly at risk. Like rotaviruses, noroviruses romp about in buildings or facilities where many people are housed in confined spaces. In old people’s homes, kindergartens and schools, it is very easy to get infected with the norovirus, which enters the mouth and thus the digestive tract either through contaminated food and drinks or via a smear infection .
The virus can get on your hands and from there into your mouth through handshakes, drying on a contaminated towel, or touching a contaminated door handle or faucet in the bathroom. The Federal Center for Health Education (BzgA) warns that infection can also occur through small, virus-containing droplets in the air that arise when vomiting . Because our immune system is particularly susceptible in the winter months and we are often with other people in heated rooms, infections occur particularly often from October to March .
Diarrhea and Vomiting: What to Do Now
If you register the symptoms of vomiting diarrhea, you should do one thing above all: act immediately to support your recovery and also to protect your environment!
We have put together a small checklist for you:
DRINK A LOT
If you notice a very dry tongue or dark urine output, it indicates a large loss of fluid that can occur with vomiting and diarrhea. Then at the latest it is time to act. To balance it out, drink two to three liters of still water, diluted juices, unsweetened herbal teas or use oral rehydration solutions from the pharmacy every day.
A TIP ON “OLD HOME REMEDIES”
You should avoid cola because of its high sugar content. Salt sticks are also a common home remedy to compensate for the loss of electrolytes. But be careful: pretzel sticks contain sodium, but no potassium. Special solutions or powders for mixing special drinking solutions from the pharmacy are a useful addition. You can find more about this in our article: Why cola and pretzel sticks are not a good combination for stomach pain .
EASILY DIGESTIBLE MEALS BRING NEW ENERGY
- Bananas: The tropical fruit contains large amounts of potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6, which is important for protein metabolism . In addition, bananas contain a great deal of the fiber pectin and bind water in the intestine, which helps to thicken the food pulp in the intestine.
- Rusks: The double-baked bread is a classic home remedy, very digestible and contains little fat. If the rusk is too dry or hard for you , you can also have dry white bread as an alternative .
- Potatoes: The tuber contains little fat, but a lot of fiber as food for your intestinal bacteria and a lot of potassium and thus replenishes your empty electrolyte stores. Jacket potatoes, which you can also eat pureed, are best suited. In addition to an appropriate diet, other remedies can also help to get the symptoms of diarrhea under control.
Here you will find a small checklist with active ingredients that can alleviate the symptoms of acute diarrhea:
FLOH TOGETHER DISHES
The coarsely and finely ground seed coats contain 85 percent soluble fiber . When mixed with water, the psyllium husks swell and form a gel-like mass that can regulate the consistency of the stool. In the case of diarrhea, the stool can also be thickened. Soak two teaspoons (5 to 10 grams) of psyllium husks in about 100 ml of water or unsweetened tea before drinking this mixture up to three times a day. Important: Since flea seeds swell, you should drink two glasses of water again after taking them. Flea seeds are available in organic shops, pharmacies or health food stores.
Preparations with the active ingredient are antidiarrheal. For adults, these preparations are available from pharmacies without a prescription. Racecadotril inhibits the formation of the enzyme enkephalinase and thus combats the excessive influx of water and electrolytes into the intestine without impairing the bowel movement (motility). This normalizes bowel movements and reduces the urge to go to the bathroom. 50 percent of patients recover after taking Racecadotril within 10 hours, 80 percent within a day.
The active ingredient inhibits the movement and muscle activity of the intestine and counteracts the formation of secretions. This reduces the frequency of the stool and solidifies the stool. Adults should initially take 4 mg, then 2 mg after each unformed stool (max. 12 mg / day). Without a doctor’s recommendation, the intake should not last longer than two days. Loperamide must not be used in febrile or bloody diarrhea.
These are microorganisms, mostly bacteria from the group of lactic acid bacteria, which – taken orally – survive the gastrointestinal passage in sufficiently high numbers. Once in the intestine, they support the unbalanced intestinal flora and help the intestine to help itself. Various products with certain bacteria and yeasts are available for the probiotic treatment of diarrheal diseases. You can get advice on this from your doctor or pharmacy.