What is gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining, which causes digestive problems, such as diarrhea and vomiting. Gastroenteritis is extremely contagious and can spread fast. The people who are the most at risk should they contract gastroenteritis are young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems due to illness or medication.
Gastroenteritis can be caused by a virus, bacterial or parasite. You can catch it by touching an infected person or object or by eating or drinking contaminated products.
Symptoms, which include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, etc., last between 1 to 3 days. In some severe cases, symptoms can persist up to 7 to 10 days.
Rehydrating yourself and resting are the two best ways you can treat gastroenteritis.
You have to be very careful because, as mentioned before, gastroenteritis is very contagious. The virus is mainly excreted in faces of an infected person. That is why it is so important to wash your hands after going to the toilet.
Is it possible to avoid it if another family member has gastroenteritis?
When gastroenteritis comes knocking on your door, there are means to ensure that the entire family doesn’t succumb to it. Here are our steps to avoid it spreading throughout your household.
1- Designate one family member to take care of the person who is ill.
Whenever possible, designate one family member to look after the person who is sick. Other family should stick to taking care of the rest of the household, particularly when preparing meals.
2- Isolate the person who is sick from other family members
The person who is sick should stay in their bedroom or bathroom for as long as the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea continue. If you have more than one bathroom in your home, make sure the sick person only uses one of them.
3- Disinfect properly
Disinfect all areas where the sick person has been, ideally with a solution made up of bleach. Mix 1 cup of bleach with 9 cups of cold or lukewarm water. Do not use hot water as the solution could be irritating to your respiratory tract and skin. To maximize the solution’s effectiveness, it must remain in contact with surfaces (toilet, sink, vanity, floors, door handles, etc.) for at least 30 seconds.
For dirty clothes, bed linens and towels, wash them in hot water and dry them using high heat. You can also use bleach if the fabrics can withstand bleach. Verify the labels.
4- Make sure everyone washes their hands!
To reduce the risk of contagion, washing your hands thoroughly is your best bet. You don’t need antibacterial soap; ordinary soap works just fine. The important thing is to scrub properly!
- Wet your hands with lukewarm water, apply soamp and lather well.
- Rub your hands together rapidly across all surfaces, including underneath your nails, for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse with lukewarm water.
All members of the family should regularly wash their hands, especially after going to the restroom or before a meal—and regardless if someone is sick at home or not!
5- Cancel any social events or gatherings
When someone has gastroenteritis, you must avoid transmitting it to people who are in a fragile state of health. As long as someone in your family has the gastro, don’t welcome guests at home and don’t visit people vulnerable to illness (the elderly, sick people, babies)
In fact, it would be wise to postpone visits at least 48 hours after the symptoms have disappeared to minimize any risks. Your family, friends and coworkers will thank you!
In conclusion, even though gastroenteritis rears its ugly head, you have solutions to avoid everyone getting sick. If you do fall sick, hang in there! Get some rest and drink lots of fluids. Good luck!