Overview of Gastroenteritis
Allergy Stomach Pain
Gastroenteritis, or more commonly called the stomach flu, is the inflammation of the lining of the intestines. Symptoms include: diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever, chills, etc. One of the worst things that can happen during gastroenteritis is dehydration because it is often difficult to keep down more than what you are losing. Usually, there is no treatment associated with gastroenteritis.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis directly affects the intestines. Some symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, headaches, muscle aches and fever. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and typically last between one and ten days. You will begin noticing symptoms within minutes or hours of ingestion.
Severe symptoms will require a visit to your physician. If you are an adult, seek medical attention if you are a vomiting for more than two days, cannot keep liquids down for 24 hours, vomiting blood, blood in bowel movements, dehydrated, or have a fever above 104 degrees. In children, see your physician if the fever exceeds 102 degrees, seems tired, has bloody diarrhea, or is dehydrated. In babies, call your physician if they have not wet a diaper in six hours, has bloody bowel movements, diarrhea, dry mouth, cries with no tears, vomiting that lasts more than a few hours, or is very drowsy.
Causes of Gastroenteritis
The cause of gastroenteritis is typically an allergic reaction to food. There are proteins in the food that some people’s immune system finds to be harmful. When your body finds a certain protein to be harmful, it will react on the second exposure to the allergen. Usually an allergic reaction does not occur on the first encounter, but will likely happen on the second. The most common food allergies are triggered by shellfish, peanuts, and fish. In children, the most common food allergies are triggered by peanuts, eggs, milk, wheat, or soy.
Risk Factors of Gastroenteritis
You are at a higher risk for a food allergy if you have a family history of food allergies. If you have other allergies or asthma, you will likely have a food allergy too. Age is also important to look at, as most food allergies occur in children. Typically, children will outgrow their food allergies.
Complications of Gastroenteritis
The main complication with gastroenteritis is dehydration. Long periods of being dehydrated can lead to a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or kidney failure. In extreme cases, seizures may occur. Hypovolemic shock, also known as low blood volume shock, is the most serious complication. This happens when low blood volume count makes your blood pressure drop and also causes a drop in your oxygen levels.
Prevention of Gastroenteritis
The best method of prevention is to avoid the food allergen. Since there is no real treatment for gastroenteritis, you will have to treat the symptoms. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Stop eating full meals and really focus on just sipping water and eating bland food such as crackers or soup. When symptoms subside, then you can begin to reintroduce food again.
Check labels on foods before purchasing and if you are eating in a restaurant, check with the server to ensure there is no cross-contamination. In some cases, you may have to have them properly clean the area and even trade gloves. Some ingredients may be hidden under other ingredient names. Study the alternative names so you know what to look for when purchasing and ordering. If there is no possible way to avoid your allergens in restaurants, then pack meals and snacks to bring with you.
If your child is the one with the allergy, be sure to notify everyone that is responsible for your child, including teachers, after-school care workers, babysitters, their friend’s parents, etc.
Diagnosis of Gastroenteritis
Typically, you will be able to tell what foods trigger an allergic reaction. Your allergist may recommend keeping a food journal to see what foods are causing the allergic reaction. If the allergist is not able to properly pinpoint one allergy through a physical exam or food journal, then a skin test may be administered. During a skin test, a variety of allergens are placed on the skin and the skin is pricked. If a place where the allergen was becomes raised and red, then that signifies an allergy. A proper diagnosis is key in treatment, because then you will be able to properly avoid the food that triggers a reaction.
Triggers of Gastroenteritis
Certain foods may cause an allergic reaction. Oftentimes, you do not have to directly consume the food in order to experience the allergic reaction. In some cases, cross-contamination may be the cause of the allergic reaction.
Treatment of Gastroenteritis
The best treatment is to avoid the allergen. However, sometimes this is not possible, especially because of cross-contamination. There is no true treatment for gastroenteritis, but there are plenty of remedies to help the symptoms. At the first sight of dehydration, begin drinking extra water or take an oral rehydration solution. The key to battling dehydration is to fight it before it really begins. You may have to take smaller sips of water or even just suck on ice chips. Stop eating solid foods for a little while, and when you begin eating again, start with smaller, bland foods.
Summary of Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis, more commonly known as the stomach flu, can frequently affect those with food allergies. Food allergies typically occur in children, but can also be seen in adults. There is no formal treatment for this, but you can take precautions, such as ensuring you are properly hydrated. Dehydration is the biggest complication with gastroenteritis, so avoiding this is crucial. A proper diagnosis will be done through a food journal and/or physical exam. If there is no confirmed diagnosis through this, then a skin test will be administered. Ensuring the proper diagnosis is essential in treatment. Once you know what triggers a reaction, then you will be able to avoid the food. You can avoid the food by checking labels, speaking with the restaurant staff, or bringing your own food. To treat gastroenteritis, stay hydrated and avoid foods that may make symptoms worse.