Causes of Stomach Infection and how to prevent it from happening
Stomach infection is a collective term used for various problems of the gastrointestinal tract. It affects the ability of the gastrointestinal tract to absorb water. It also increases the rate at which things enter your gastrointestinal tract.
As a result, it does not allow the nutrients to be absorbed or the food to be digested properly, and causes the fluid content in your intestines and the colon to increase. Also, the infectious agents can damage the intestine walls as they pass through the tract.
What are the signs and symptoms of a stomach infection?
The symptoms of stomach infection may vary from mild to severe. Some commonly reported symptoms of stomach infection are-
- Persistent diarrhoea (non-bloody)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramping
- Mild to high fever
- Headache and muscle ache
- Weight loss
These symptoms are an indication of viral gastroenteritis. Bacterial gastroenteritis may also cause bloody stool. You must see a doctor if you are having any of these symptoms. Also, be on the lookout for any visible symptoms in babies. Visit a paediatrician if you suspect your baby is having a stomach infection.
What can cause stomach infection?
Stomach infection may be caused due to various reasons. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi. Certain medications or medical conditions could also cause stomach infection.
Here are some common causes of different stomach infections (gastroenteritis).
Viral gastroenteritis- The most prevalent form of gastroenteritis, it caused by Norovirus, Rotavirus and Adenovirus among others. Norovirus is responsible for most of the reported cases in adults and children around the world.
Bacterial gastroenteritis- Bacteria like Salmonella and E Coli can also cause gastroenteritis. A differentiating factor for bacterial gastroenteritis is the occurrence of blood in the stool.
Parasitic causes- Parasites like Giardia and Entamoeba are also responsible for stomach infections.
Other causes of gastroenteritis may include food allergies and side effects of certain medications or the overuse of certain antibiotics.
How can you keep yourself safe from stomach infection?
There are no certain ways of shielding yourself totally from a stomach infection.
However, there are ways to reduce your chances of incurring one.
- Wash your hands frequently. Handwashing is an effective way of removing any germs that may be on your hands and can enter your body through food. Use an antiseptic soap or liquid hand wash like Dettol liquid hand wash when washing hands. Ensure that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with the correct technique. Alternatively, carry a hand sanitizer. It is especially useful when you are travelling or do not have access to soap and water. Dettol hand sanitizer has 60% alcohol in its composition and can help in killing any disease-causing germs on your hands.
- You must ensure that you keep your distance from infected people as much as possible. Also, wash any items an infected person may have come into contact with. This may include clothes, plates, glasses, and toys among others. You can also clean the items and other high touch surfaces with an antiseptic liquid such as Dettol.
- Raw and undercooked foods can host bacteria like E.coli which give rise to stomach infection on entering your body. Ensure that you properly wash and cook raw food, especially meat, before consumption. Keep away from raw foods if you do not know how they have been handled. Also, do not drink untreated water or tap water if you think it is unsafe.
- Do not eat dairy products that have been stored in an unhygienic place.
- Wash and boil any produce that you buy from the market thoroughly before consuming it.
- Avoid eating food from roadside stalls that have been kept open for long. Also, ensure that you drink bottled water when you are travelling.
These tips may seem effortless but can help in reducing your chances of a stomach infection.