Overview of Gastroenteritis
Allergy induced Stomach Pain
Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the lining of the intestines. Symptoms include: nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, diarrhea 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 specific treatment associated with viral gastroenteritis, but there can be for allergic/eosinophilic 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, tree nuts and fish. In children, the most common food allergies are triggered by peanuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy and lentils.
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 some of their food allergies.
Prevention of Gastroenteritis
The best method of prevention is to avoid the food allergen as diagnosed by Allergy Skin Test or Specialised Allergy Blood Tests. 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. Take the medicines prescribed to prevent progression of symptoms.
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.
A proper diagnosis will be done through a food journal and/or physical exam. Final confirmation of diagnosis is through an Allergy Skin test/Blood test orders by an Allergy Immunology Superspecialist. Upper GI endoscopy with biopsy is often essential to confirm presence of eosinophils in the oesophagus or stomach or small intestines.
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.
Specific treatments are also available for Eosinophilic Oesophagitis and Gastroenteritis which your Allergist will explain to you.
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