Gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection that causes diarrhea and vomiting in children. In many people, diarrhea occurs only for one day, sometimes up to 10 days. Prolonged diarrhea in children causes severe dehydration, which is especially dangerous in infants and young children. Statistics show that all children under 5 get a viral gastroenteritis infection at least once.
Gastroenteritis in children is inflammation in the stomach and intestines that causes diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and other symptoms of digestive discomfort. In industrialized countries, the most common causes of gastroenteritis in children are viruses, bacteria (food poisoning), and intestinal parasites.
Gastroenteritis can be classified into three categories based on the severity of symptoms: mild, moderate, and severe.
In all healthy children, viral infections of the digestive system are often the cause of mild gastroenteritis.
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The most common viral causes of gastroenteritis in children include rotaviruses, adenoviruses, enteroviruses, astroviruses, and noroviruses.
Rotaviruses mainly cause infectious diarrhea in children under five years of age.
All viruses that cause gastroenteritis in children are spread through hands that have touched the feces of an infected person or surfaces contaminated with feces.
For this reason, young children just learning to observe hygiene are more susceptible to some form of gastroenteritis in children.
They may touch a dirty diaper, forget to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, put their fingers in their mouths, chew their nails, or toys that other children touch with contaminated hands. Touch them and put them in your mouth.
Parents and nurses also cause gastroenteritis in children, especially if they do not wash their hands well with soap and water after changing the child’s diaper.
In addition, adults with gastroenteritis can transmit viral infections to children, especially if they prepare the child’s food without washing their hands with soap and water.
Some viruses that cause gastroenteritis in children may be found in water or food in areas with low sanitation.
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Food that is not adequately prepared and stored can be a place for bacteria to grow, and these bacteria produce stimulating chemicals called toxins.
If the child consumes food containing microbes, the symptoms of gastroenteritis in children appear due to the bacteria themselves or the toxins they produce.
In addition, certain types of invasive bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, or E. coli can cause more severe forms of food poisoning that cause symptoms such as high fever, severe digestive symptoms, and dehydration, even in healthy and robust children.
Intestinal parasites can be transmitted to children through contaminated hands, feces-contaminated surfaces such as toys, and contaminated water and food, and they may cause gastroenteritis in children. Giardia lamblia is a parasite that is the cause of giardiasis, the most common cause of parasitic gastroenteritis in children, especially those kept in nurseries.
Gastroenteritis can lead to several complications, including:
Early diagnosis can help prevent these complications. Parents need to seek medical attention if their child shows symptoms of dehydration, persistent vomiting, or severe abdominal pain.
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In general, children’s gastroenteritis is caused by different reasons. Usually, viruses, bacteria, bacterial toxins, parasites, chemicals, and some drugs can cause gastroenteritis in children. If your child has had gastroenteritis more than once, it may have different causes each time. The most important cause of gastroenteritis in children is rotavirus and adenovirus. If the cause of children’s gastroenteritis infection is bacteria, blood is usually seen in the child’s stool. Some of the causes of gastroenteritis infection in children are mentioned below.
The most important reasons for a child to get gastroenteritis are contact with an infected person, food poisoning, and consumption of contaminated water.
Viral gastroenteritis infection usually occurs in children and rarely occurs in adults. This disease is easily transmitted to a child through contact with an infected person and using the personal belongings of a person infected with the virus.
This infection may also be caused by eating food contaminated with microbes. If the child’s food is contaminated with bacteria, the child will suffer from food poisoning and gastroenteritis.
Another cause of children’s gastroenteritis infection is drinking water contaminated with bacteria and germs. This problem is usually widespread in countries with a low hygiene level.
Another way to transmit children’s gastroenteritis infection is by touching surfaces infected with viruses, bacteria, or parasites. When the child puts the contaminated hand in his mouth, the contamination will enter his body.
Gastroenteritis can indeed cause serious health problems, especially in young children.
Dehydration can cause seizures, kidney damage, and other complications, which can be life-threatening.
In addition, children with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are especially vulnerable to complications from gastroenteritis.
It’s essential to seek medical attention if a child shows signs of dehydration or other severe signs, as early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and improve outcomes.
Most often, children’s gastroenteritis symptoms resolve within a few days. Because the child’s immune system usually treats the infection well. If the symptoms of children’s gastroenteritis are severe, it is necessary to be admitted to the hospital under a doctor’s supervision.
Most cases of diarrhea caused by mild gastroenteritis last 2 to 3 days without complications, but despite the disappearance of symptoms for up to a week, the child may sometimes have loose stools.
Vomiting usually lasts 1 to 2 days. This is the same for adults and children.
Symptoms of acute gastroenteritis are nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea. Dehydration is the most tense complication of this disease. This disease should continue for a few days, but you may need medical attention if symptoms persist or dehydration occurs.
Various reasons can cause vomiting and diarrhea. These include viruses, bacteria, parasites, medications, or medical conditions. Foods that are difficult to digest (such as many sweets) and undercooked meat or fish (raw or semi-raw) can also cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Dr. Majid Zohrabi started treating his patients in Dubai in 2022 and continues his activities in private medical centers in the UAE.