Don't Ignore Signs of Stomach Infection Symptoms | Dettol India
A Complete Guide on Stomach Infection Symptoms : Causes, Prevention & Cure
Stomach Infections can result in discomfort and distress, and if left untreated, they can lead to serious health complications. Recognising the symptoms of stomach infection is essential to seek prompt medical attention and prevent the infection's further spread. Common stomach infection symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. However, these symptoms may vary depending on the type of infection, its severity and the affected individual's health status. This article will explore the signs, symptoms and treatments available for various stomach infections.
Understanding Stomach Infections: Definition, Causes & Types
What are Stomach Infections?
Stomach Infections are a broad term used to describe various gastrointestinal issues that affect the ability of the body to absorb water and digest food properly. It can also increase the rate at which things enter your GI tract. This can result in nutrients not being absorbed properly and hamper the digestion of food which can cause the fluid content in your colon and intestines to increase. In addition to these digestive symptoms, stomach infections can damage the walls of the intestine as infectious agents pass the digestive tract. Stomach infections can result in diarrhoea, vomiting and other unpleasant symptoms.
Causes of Stomach Infections
Stomach infection can be caused by a wide range of pathogens like bacteria, viruses or parasites that can affect different parts of your stomach.
Types of Stomach Infections
Bacterial Stomach Infection
Bacterial stomach infections include foodborne infections and food poisoning.
The common sources of bacterial stomach infections are: -
- Clostridium Perfringens
- Staphylococcus or staph infection[AP1]
Bacterial Stomach infections can be caused by ingesting contaminated foods, with some kinds of foods posing a greater risk than others like:
- Undercooked or raw meat, eggs or poultry
- Unpasteurised dairy and juices
- Contaminated water
- Food, especially meat and eggs products that are not refrigerated well
- Deli meats
- Unwashed or raw fruits and vegetables.
Also, individuals with bacterial stomach infections may spread the bacteria to the food they touch, potentially infecting someone else who consumes that food.
Viral Stomach Infections
Viral stomach infections are common and are often referred to as stomach flu.
Norovirus is a viral stomach infection and is one of the most common foodborne illnesses worldwide. Vaccines are effective in preventing some types of viral infections, including rotavirus.
Parasitic Stomach infections
Intestinal helminths or worms and protozoan parasites cause these stomach infections. The two most common parasitic infections include Giardiasis and Cryptosporidiosis, spread through contact with human faeces in soil or contaminated water.
Some parasitic infections can also spread from animals to humans, like toxoplasmosis, which people can come in contact with through cat faeces.
Common Stomach Infection Symptoms: What You Need to Know
Diarrhoea and Loose stools
What is Diarrhoea? How is it Different from Loose Stools?
Stools that are more watery and loose than your regular stools are called loose stools. Everyone experiences loose stools occasionally; some may even experience loose stools daily. However, you have diarrhoea if you have more than three episodes of loose stools daily.
Diarrhoea refers to loose, watery and possibly more frequent bowel movements. It can be present alone or accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
Causes of Diarrhoea and Loose Stools
- Viruses- Viruses that can result in diarrhoea are Norwalk virus or norovirus, enteric adenoviruses, astrovirus, cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis. Rotavirus is known to cause acute childhood diarrhoea commonly.
- Bacteria and parasites- Exposure to any pathogenic bacteria like E. coli or parasites in contaminated food or water can cause diarrhoea, a common bacterial stomach infection symptom.
- Medications- Many medications can cause diarrhoea. Antibiotics treat infections by killing bacteria, but they also kill good bacteria. This disrupts the natural balance of bacteria in your intestines and causes diarrhoea.
- Lactose intolerance- Lactose is a sugar in milk and other dairy products. People who have difficulty digesting lactose after consuming dairy products may experience diarrhoea.
- Artificial Sweeteners- Some chewing gums and other sugar-free products contain non-absorbable sugars like Sorbitol, erythritol and mannitol that can cause diarrhoea in some people.
Treatment and Prevention Options
If you experience diarrhoea, then you can treat yourself at home. The usual course of action for this bacterial stomach infection symptoms treatment is to have lots of fluids to prevent dehydration. Stay at home and get plenty of rest. You can eat whenever you regain your appetite, and there is no need to avoid any specific foods. You can take paracetamol if you are experiencing any discomfort. Generally, diarrhoea should resolve by itself within 5 to 7 days. You can consult your doctor if you are experiencing signs of dehydration, like dark, smelly urine or peeing less than usual. Your doctor may recommend
- Oral rehydration sachets that you can mix with water and consume
- Medicines to stop diarrhoea for a few hours, like loperamide.
Diarrhoea is a common stomach infection symptom in adults and children. You can reduce your risk by ensuring you follow high standards of hygiene like: -
- Wash your hands properly with soap and water after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food.
- Clean the bathroom handle and seat with an antiseptic like Dettol after every episode of diarrhoea.
- Avoid sharing towels, flannels, cutlery, utensils etc., with other members of your family
- Avoid consuming potentially unsafe tap water and undercooked food while travelling abroad.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is an unpleasant feeling of discomfort in the stomach often experienced before vomiting. Vomiting is the body's way of eliminating harmful substances from the body, or it may be the reaction to something that has irritated the gut.
Causes of Nausea and Vomiting
One of the most common causes of nausea and vomiting is gastroenteritis, an infection in the gut caused by a bacteria or virus. Other causes of vomiting can be
- Labyrinthitis- inner ear infection that occurs due to a virus
- Motion Sickness
- Taking certain medications like antibiotics or opioid painkillers,
- Drinking too much alcohol,
- Kidney Infections,
- Blockage in your bowel caused by hernia or gallstones,
- Acute Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
Treatment and Prevention Options
Medications, known as antiemetics, can help alleviate the symptoms. There are several other over-the-counter drugs available as well.
It is not possible to prevent nausea or vomiting, but you may be able to manage them more effectively by: -
- Take small sips of water frequently, so you don't become dehydrated.
- Eating salty snacks like crisps can help replace lost salt.
- You can try ginger in tea or biscuits, but contact your doctor before taking ginger as a supplement.
- Drink peppermint tea
- Eating regular meals and avoiding oily and greasy food
- Letting in some fresh and cool air
- Sitting upright after eating a meal to prevent acid reflux
- Avoiding tight clothing
- Washing hands frequently to reduce the spread of infection
- Contact your doctor if nausea and vomiting happen without apparent cause.
Abdominal Pain and Cramps
Understanding Abdominal Pain and Cramps
Abdominal pain is cramps or a dull ache in the stomach. It typically only lasts for a short time and is often not serious. However, severe abdominal pain can be a significant cause of concern.
Causes of Abdominal Pain and Cramps
Stomach cramps with bloating can be a result of trapped wind. If your stomach cramps are accompanied by diarrhoea, This indicates that you have a viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and bowel. Gastroenteritis could result from close contact with someone infected or eating contaminated food. If you experience stomach cramps and diarrhoea repeatedly, it may be a sign of a long-term condition like IBS- irritable bowel syndrome.
Other causes of abdominal pain could be appendicitis, stomach ulcer, kidney stones, diverticulitis, ectopic pregnancy, and acute cholecystitis.
Treatment and Prevention Options
You can treat stomach pain due to trapped wind with medications like buscopan and mebeverine.
Abdominal pain and cramps, both common infections in stomach symptoms caused due to gastroenteritis, usually get better without treatment within a few days. Treatment of Abdominal pain due to other causes depends on your doctor's diagnosis. However, if it's not due to a severe condition, remedies like drinking bitters and soda, ginger, chamomile or peppermint, a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast), a heating pad or a warm bath can help.
Not all types of abdominal pain are preventable. You can minimise the chances of developing abdominal pain by: -
- Eating a healthy diet
- Drinking lots of water
- Exercising regularly
- Eating smaller meals
Fever and Chills
Understanding Fever and Chills
A typical body temperature is approximately 37 degrees Celsius. A fever is usually when your body temperature is 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher. People generally experience chills along with fever. A person with a fever may experience muscle contractions and shivers, also called chills. The purpose of these muscle contractions is to raise the body's temperature to help fight an infection or another illness.
Causes of Fever and Chills
There can be several reasons for a high temperature; however, it's not usually a sign of anything serious. It's often caused by your body fighting an infection, for example, a cold or flu. If your fever is very high and does not come down, it could be a sign of something serious.
Treatment and Prevention Options
If you have a high temperature, you can feel better by:-
- Getting lots of rest
- Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uneasy
- Stay at home and avoid contact with people until your fever subsides.
The best way to prevent fever is to avoid the infections that cause them: -
- Get all recommended vaccines.
- Practise regular handwashing with soap and warm water, especially before eating and touching the face and someone else.
- Try to avoid meeting people who are sick. If doing this is not feasible, wear a mask and wash your hands when you contact an infected person.
- Follow safe food preparation practices like heating food according to the manufacturer's instructions, using different utensils for different foods and washing hands before and after touching raw meat.·
Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss
Understanding Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss
Anyone can experience weight loss, and there could be many reasons that could be the cause. People may lose the desire to eat, lose interest in food, or feel nauseous. Loss of appetite is often accompanied by weight loss and fatigue if a person does not eat enough to sustain the body.
Causes of Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss
The reason for loss of appetite can be physical or psychological. If it is a stomach infection symptom or due to digestive issues, it is temporary, as the desire to eat returns once the individual recovers completely.
Some people may experience loss of appetite due to a long-term medical condition, such as in the later stages of severe illnesses like cancer. This is part of a condition known as cachexia.
The medical term for loss of appetite for a prolonged period is called anorexia. Other short-term causes for loss of appetite are cold, flu, respiratory infections, a bacterial stomach infection symptom, viral infections, constipation, upset stomach, acid reflux, food poisoning, allergies, food intolerances, pregnancy, stress, hormonal imbalances, medication side effects or alcohol and drug use.
Treatment and Prevention Options
- A doctor may prescribe certain medications to increase appetite and reduce other symptoms like nausea.
- If loss of appetite is due to depression or anxiety, talking therapies or taking antidepressants can be helpful.
- If your doctor thinks a specific medication is causing your appetite loss, changing the dosage or the drug may help.
Preventing loss of appetite may not always be possible, but you can manage this condition by:
- Eating several small meals a day instead of three big meals.
- Make these meals high in protein and calories so that your body is not deprived of nutrients and energy
- Adding herbs, spices, and other flavourings may encourage interest in eating
- Eating meals in relaxed social settings can make eating enjoyable
- Light exercise like a short walk can increase appetite
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
Dehydration and Fatigue
Understanding Dehydration and Fatigue
Dehydration means your body ends up losing more fluids than it takes in. If you're ignorant about the situation, your condition could worsen and get serious. Babies, children and older adults are at a higher risk of dehydration. Fatigue is often a symptom that comes along with dehydration.
Causes of Dehydration and Fatigue
You may experience dehydration -
- If you are a diabetic
- You were sick recently or had diarrhoea
- Have been in the sun too long
- Have consumed too much alcohol
- Excessive sweating after exercising
- Have a high temperature
- Take medicines that make you pass urine often (diuretics)
Treatment and Prevention options
- The standard treatment for dehydration involves drinking plenty of fluids if you are experiencing dehydration. If you are already sick or ill, you will find it hard to swallow, so start with small sips of water and then gradually increase the quantity. It would help if you drank enough such that your urine appears pale and clear in colour.
- If you are sick or have diarrhoea and are losing a lot of fluid, you need to replenish the sugar, salt and minerals your body has lost.
- Your doctor will prescribe oral rehydration solutions you can mix with water and drink.
- If you are sick or sweating more due to hot weather or exercise or have diarrhoea, drink more water to reduce the chances of dehydration.
- Pay special attention to children under the age of 5 years to avoid dehydration.
When should you Seek Attention for Stomach Infections
Don't Ignore the signs: Know when to get Prompt Medical Attention for Symptoms of Stomach Infections
Most people do not have to visit a doctor if they are experiencing stomach infections.
However, the NIDDK recommends visiting a doctor right away if a person experiences the following symptoms
- Severe pain in the abdomen
- Very high fever
- Diarrhoea that goes beyond two days
- Black or tarry stools
- Six or more episodes of loose stools in a day
- Frequent vomiting
- Change in mental state
Determining the Right Time When to Visit a doctor or Emergency room
An individual with a stomach infection should see a doctor right away if they cannot keep a liquid down or exhibit signs of dehydration like: -
- Extreme thirst
- Dark, infrequent urine
- Sunken cheeks and eyes
- A dry mouth
- Skin that does not flatten after pinching
Some must consult a doctor for a stomach infection, as they are at a higher risk of complications. They include: -
- Pregnant women
- People who have a compromised immune system
- Older adults
- Infants and younger children
Staying Ahead: Effective Prevention and Management Tips for Preventing Stomach Infections
Tips for Preventing Stomach Infections
Many stomach infections are highly contagious, but there are specific steps that a person can take to help prevent the further spread of infection. They include
- Wash hands well with a liquid hand wash like that of Dettol and water.
- Avoid substituting handwashing with alcohol-based sanitisers.
- Stay away from cooking or preparing food for another person when ill.
- Take precautions when travelling to areas where parasitic infections are rampant
- Take precautions to prevent toxoplasmosis and avoid cat litter box if pregnant[AP7]
Lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of stomach infections
- Disinfect hard surfaces with bleach
- Launder clothes and liners with extra caution
- Practice food safety, including washing fruits and vegetables well and cooking meats properly before consumption
- Steer clear from contaminated food and water
- Wash hands and surfaces before, after and during food preparation
- Separate raw meats, seafood, poultry and eggs from the prepared food
- Cooking food to a safe internal temperature and avoiding consumption of undercooked food
- Refrigerate food below 4 degrees Celsius within 2 hours of cooking
People at a high risk of stomach infections and complications should avoid consuming undercooked or raw foods from animals, unpasteurised dairy products, juices, and raw sprouts.
How to Manage Stomach Infection Symptoms at Home
You can manage the symptoms of a stomach infection at home in the following ways: -
- Resting well
- Taking sips of water at frequent intervals
- Using over-the-counter medications with care
- Consuming bland and easy-to-digest food on feeling better
The Significance of Identifying and Managing Stomach Infections
Summary of the Importance of Recognising and Managing Stomach Infection Symptoms
Stomach infections can cause uncomfortable symptoms and, if left untreated, can result in serious complications. Recognising the signs of a stomach infection is vital in seeking prompt medical attention and preventing further complications. Proper management of symptoms through hydration, dietary adjustments and medications can go a long way in alleviating the symptoms and preventing the further spread of infection.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations for Staying Healthy and Informed
For optimal health, it is crucial to adopt habits like practising good hand hygiene, engaging in regular exercise and physical activity, eating a balanced diet and getting adequate sleep. Staying up-to-date with the latest health information, including new treatments, vaccines, and preventive strategies, is always beneficial. Ensure you get information from reliable sources like trusted healthcare professionals and reputed organisations.