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How to Prevent Bacterial Gastroenteritis - No to Stomach Flu

How to Prevent Bacterial Gastroenteritis - No to Stomach Flu

Feeling sick or under the weather can be extremely unpleasant, especially if it involves a runny nose or a sore throat. However, illnesses that affect the digestive system are on another level of unpleasant due to the symptoms that they cause. Illnesses like gastroenteritis can top anyone’s list of illnesses that they want to avoid. Here’s how to prevent bacterial gastroenteritis.

There’s a very fine line between the flu and a stomach flu, and the severity of the symptoms that a person can experience draws that line.

What happens when you have gastroenteritis

The main symptom of gastroenteritis is diarrhea, which is when your stool is watery and loose. A person has diarrhea if they have 3 or more watery bowel movements in a day. Diarrhea is often accompanied by a stomach ache.

Other symptoms of gastroenteritis include:

  • Difficulty keeping liquids down
  • Vomiting, with or without the presence of blood
  • Dehydration
  • Presence of blood in your stools
  • Fever

Treatment of gastroenteritis

In most cases of the stomach flu, treatment of the symptoms can be done in the comfort of your own home by preventing extreme dehydration. In a few day’s time, the stomach flu eventually goes away. Here are a few things you can do to alleviate symptoms of gastroenteritis:

  1. Get enough rest, especially if you have a fever.
  2. Get enough fluid, like water or sports drinks with added electrolytes to prevent severe dehydration.
  3. Try sipping a drink slowly instead of gulping it down. This can help prevent feeling nauseous. It also helps to avoid drinking too much fluid in one sitting.
  4. Avoid dairy products and fatty food to avoid further aggravating the abdominal pain.
  5. Make sure to eat small amounts of bland food so as to not upset your stomach even further. These include the following:
  • Vegetables
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Popsicles
  • Gelatin
  • Eggs
  • Soup
  • Tofu

BRAT Diet for Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea

How to prevent bacterial gastroenteritis

The bacteria and viruses that can cause gastroenteritis are highly contagious. Aside from vaccination, here are some ways you can prevent gastroenteritis:

Wash your hands

Hands are usually the culprit in the spread of many viruses, including those that cause gastroenteritis. Make sure to practice good handwashing habits. Wash your hands before you eat and after you go to the bathroom. As an additional safety measure, use hand sanitizer after washing your hands.

Make sure to handle food carefully

Contaminated food and water are another possible cause of gastroenteritis, which is why food should be prepared in a clean environment. Meat, eggs, and shellfish should be cooked properly before being eaten. In addition, fruits, vegetables, and other food that can be eaten raw should be rinsed thoroughly and kept separate from raw food.

Store food at the right temperature

Cold food must be kept in temperatures below 5 °C, while hot food should be kept at 60 °C to prevent them from spoiling.

Disinfect surfaces as needed

The kitchen sink, counters, and other high-risk surfaces should be kept clean and disinfected regularly. Toilet seats and door handles should also be disinfected especially in places where people gather.

Never prepare food for others if you’re not feeling well

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that you should never prepare food for others for at least two days until your symptoms stop.

If you’re currently sick with the stomach flu,

  1. Make sure to keep sick areas clean: It’s important to keep your environment clean especially if there are any soiled articles of clothing or bedding. Utensils must be sterilized after every use and should be separated from utensils used by other people in the household.

People who are traveling or on vacation are also susceptible to stomach bugs due to the fact that they may come into contact with contaminated food or water. When traveling,

  1. Only drink bottled water and try to ask for drinks without ice when eating out. Ice can be made from contaminated water.
  2. When brushing your teeth, try to use bottled water and not tap water.
  3. Try to avoid raw food, including fruits and vegetables, which have been handled by another person. This is especially common in street food in some countries.
  4. Check if the meat and fish you eat is cooked properly.

Key Takeaways

Gastroenteritis, most commonly known as “stomach flu,” is characterized by the infection of the digestive system that usually causes symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. By following these tips you are better equipped and knowledgeable on how to prevent bacterial gastroenteritis.

This disease can easily be avoided by maintaining proper hygiene and being careful with what you eat and how you handle food.

Learn more about Digestive Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Kip Soliva Updated Dec 04, 2020
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.