What is

Acute Gastroenteritis?

By Dr. Kinjal Kanani

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Acute Gastroenteritis is infectious diarrhoea...

Acute Gastroenteritis is infectious diarrhoea that leads to the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract causing the symptoms of vomiting, abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhoea and sometimes even fever. It is a common global illness.

Acute Gastroenteritis occurs all over the world, affecting people of every age, race, and background but it's much more prevalent in developing countries like Nepal, where a huge portion of the population is still poverty-stricken and illiterate. Living a hard laborious life, hardly managing the basic resources, and with a lack of awareness, most people don't take their diet and health seriously which makes diseases such as diarrhoea much more susceptible.

"A recent study from 2016/17 shows that around 1,184,120 cases of Gastroenteritis were reported in Nepal and the national incidence of Gastroenteritis per 1000 under-5-year-old decreased from 422 to 1000 in 2015/16 to 400 to 1000 in fiscal year 2016/17."

Causes:

Acute Gastroenteritis is most commonly caused by Rota-virus, a virus that mainly affects infants and children. Rota-virus is commonly found to be affecting people with an immature or weakened immune system. So, infants and young children, the elderly, and HIV patients are highly prone to Acute Gastroenteritis.


Symptoms:

When a person is infected by Rota-virus and has Acute Gastroenteritis, the person's body will be indicating different signs and symptoms. The primary symptom of Acute Gastroenteritis is diarrhoea and is the frequent passing of loose or watery bowel movements.

 

Although diarrhoea is the first seen main symptom, there are many other signs and symptoms that follow.

Symptoms of Acute Gastroenteritis are:

  • Diarrhoea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal cramping

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Dehydration

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These symptoms range from mild to severe and start appearing within 1-3 days after the Rota-virus infection. The symptoms may last anywhere from 2-10 days. The affected person should consult a doctor immediately if the symptoms start to get severe or last for more than 5-7 days. In some cases, the symptoms are found to disappear within 3-5 days and reappear again after several days

 

Prevention:

There are several preventive measures that can be adopted to reduce the risk of Acute Gastroenteritis. Some safety precautions and preventive measures to avoid the risk of Acute Gastroenteritis are:

  • Regularly keeping your kitchen and utensils clean and sanitized.

  • Washing your hands before handling food, after the toilet, after touching animals and before eating food.

  • Drinking clean and purified water.

  • Developing a strong and healthy immune system through exercise and a healthy diet.

Rota-virus which causes Acute Gastroenteritis can be transmitted from person to person. So, it is very important not only for the people prone to the virus but also for people who are suffering from Acute Gastroenteritis to follow these preventive measures and keep themselves and their environment clean and sanitized in order to prevent the infection from spreading.

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The situation of Acute Gastroenteritis in Nepal

Acute Gastroenteritis is a vicious threat to Nepal's health status; it is an epidemic that has taken the lives of thousands of children. Taking note of this problem, in 2017 AD, the Government of Nepal teamed up with the Ministry of Health and Department of Health Services Epidemiology and Disease Control Division to launch National Preparedness and Response Plan for Acute Gastroenteritis/Cholera Outbreaks in Nepal from July 2017 to 2022 AD. Other research studies are also being conducted around the topic of Rota-virus and Acute Gastroenteritis mainly to perform genotyping of the virus and to obtain any additional information about the treatment and prevention of Acute Gastroenteritis.