Gastrointestinal issues can significantly impact our daily lives, affecting our energy levels, work, and social interactions. Gastro, or gastroenteritis, is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, often caused by viral or bacterial infections. This article will explore the symptoms of gastro, available treatments, and the convenience of online healthcare services provided by Phenix Health.
What is gastro?
Gastro is short for gastroenteritis, which is a condition that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Gastro can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, fever, and dehydration. Gastro is usually caused by an infection from viruses, bacteria, or parasites, but food poisoning, allergies, or medications can also trigger it. Gastro can affect anyone, but it is more common and serious in young children, elderly people, and people with weakened immune systems.
What are the symptoms of gastro?
The symptoms of gastro can vary depending on the cause and severity of the infection, but they usually start within a few hours or days of exposure. The most common symptoms are:
Nausea and Vomiting:
Gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as gastro, often initiates with sensations of nausea, an unsettling feeling in the stomach that may progress to vomiting. Nausea is the body’s way of signalling distress in the digestive system. Vomiting follows as a reflexive response to expel potentially harmful substances or irritants. The severity and duration of nausea can vary among individuals and are influenced by factors such as the specific cause of gastro and an individual’s overall health.
To alleviate nausea and vomiting, you’re advised to rest, avoid strong odours, and stay hydrated with small sips of clear fluids. If nausea persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, seeking medical advice becomes crucial for proper evaluation and guidance.
Diarrhea is characterised by the passage of loose, watery stools, a prevalent symptom in gastroenteritis, including gastro. The inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract disrupts the normal absorption of water, resulting in the altered consistency of stools. The frequency of bowel movements also increases during episodes of diarrhea, contributing to the potential for dehydration.
Addressing diarrhea involves prioritising hydration to counteract fluid losses. Rehydration solutions, clear broths, and water are recommended. Additionally, dietary modifications, such as incorporating easily digestible foods, can help comfort the digestive system. Persistent or severe diarrhea requires medical attention to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.
Cramping and discomfort in the abdominal region are hallmark symptoms of gastro. The inflammation and irritation of the stomach and intestines lead to spasmodic contractions, resulting in cramps. The intensity of abdominal pain can vary, ranging from mild discomfort to more severe cramping.
Over-the-counter pain relievers may provide relief for mild abdominal pain. However, persistent or severe pain necessitates medical evaluation to identify the specific cause of gastro and determine the most effective treatment plan.
Gastro episodes often coincide with the presence of a mild to moderate fever, indicating an underlying infection. The body’s immune response to the infection triggers an elevation in body temperature, contributing to feelings of restlessness and discomfort.
Fever management involves staying hydrated, resting, and using over-the-counter fever-reducing medications if recommended by a healthcare professional. Monitoring the duration and intensity of the fever is important, as persistent or high-grade fevers may necessitate medical evaluation to identify and address the underlying cause.
What treatments are available for gastro?
Most gastro cases are mild and resolve within a few days without any specific treatment. However, some cases may require medical attention, especially if you have severe or persistent symptoms, signs of dehydration, blood in your stool or vomit, or a high fever. You should also see a doctor if you have a weakened immune system, a chronic medical condition, or if you are pregnant.
The main treatment for gastro is to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. You can also take oral rehydration solutions available at pharmacies to replace the lost salts and sugars. You should avoid solid foods, alcohol, caffeine, and dairy products until you feel better. You can gradually introduce bland foods, such as toast, rice, bananas, and applesauce, as your symptoms improve.
Some over-the-counter medications, such as anti-diarrhoeal or anti-nausea drugs, may help relieve some of the symptoms of gastro, but they are not recommended for everyone. You should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication, as some of them may have side effects or interactions with other drugs or conditions. Additionally, when exploring treatment options, consider seeking a prescription online from our healthcare team. You should also avoid taking antibiotics unless prescribed by your doctor, as they may not work for viral or parasitic infections, and they may cause more harm than good.
When should you see a doctor for gastro?
Knowing when to seek medical attention for gastro is essential to ensure timely and appropriate treatment. Here are detailed explanations for when you should book a telehealth appointment for gastro:
Severe or Persistent Symptoms:
If you experience severe or persistent symptoms such as prolonged diarrhea, continuous vomiting, intense stomach pain, or a fever that doesn’t subside, it is crucial to seek medical attention. Persistent symptoms may indicate a more severe underlying cause that requires professional evaluation and intervention.
Signs of Dehydration:
Dehydration is a significant concern during gastro episodes, given the potential for fluid loss through vomiting and diarrhea. If you notice signs of dehydration, including a dry mouth, persistent thirst, dizziness, weakness, confusion, or fainting, it is important to see a doctor promptly. Dehydration can lead to serious complications, and medical intervention may be necessary to restore proper fluid balance.
Presence of Blood:
The presence of blood in your stool or vomit is a serious indication that requires immediate medical attention. Blood in these bodily fluids may signify internal bleeding, and a doctor’s assessment is essential to determine the cause and implement appropriate treatment.
High Fever (Above 40°C):
A high fever, especially one exceeding 40°C, is a concerning symptom that requires medical attention. A fever of this magnitude may indicate a severe infection or complication that requires a thorough examination by a healthcare professional.
Weakened Immune System:
If you have a weakened immune system due to a medical condition or ongoing treatment, such as chemotherapy, you should consult a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of gastro. You may be more susceptible to complications, and early medical intervention is crucial for your well-being.
Chronic Medical Conditions:
If you have underlying chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease, seeking medical advice for gastro symptoms is important. These conditions may complicate the course of gastro, and a healthcare professional can provide tailored guidance and treatment.
If you’re pregnant and experiencing symptoms of gastro, you should consult with your healthcare provider. Gastro symptoms can pose risks to you and your unborn baby. So, it is essential to seek professional guidance.
Lack of Improvement or Worsening Symptoms:
If your gastro symptoms do not show improvement within a few days of self-care measures or if they worsen over time, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Persistent or worsening symptoms may indicate a need for a more thorough evaluation to identify the underlying cause and determine the appropriate course of treatment.
Medical Certificates for Gastro
If you face the unlucky situation of coming down with gastro, it’s a good idea to stay home from work, rest and focus on getting better. If you need a medical certificate, our team at Phenix Health can help you with that ASAP. Our team is available 24/7 and the medical certificate will be delivered to your email address immediately.
Book a consultation with Phenix Health
One of the easiest and most convenient ways to see a doctor for gastro is with telehealth. Telehealth allows you to consult with a qualified and experienced doctor or nurse online, either through a video call or a phone call, from the comfort of your own home. You can get a diagnosis, advice, prescription, referral, or medical certificate, depending on your needs. You can also access online nurse consultations, which can provide you with support, education, and care coordination.
Phenix Health is a leading provider of online health services in Australia, offering 24/7 access to Australian doctors and healthcare professionals. You can book an online doctor appointment or an online nurse consultation through our website and get high-quality and affordable healthcare services.
Gastro can be a distressing and uncomfortable condition, but it doesn’t have to discomfort your life. With Phenix Health, you can get the best online doctor and nurse services for gastro, and get back to feeling well in no time. Book a consultation with Phenix Health today and experience the future of healthcare.