Unfortunately winter is the season for many things. In Canberra it’s the season for ice, snow, colds and flus and outbreaks of gastroenteritis.
With the recent news of an outbreak of norovirus at Calvary hospital I thought it might be timely to talk a little bit about the dreaded diarrhoea and vomiting bugs!
Gastroenteritis is usually caused by an infection, and most commonly a viral infection. Anyone can catch it – and fortunately it’s usually a very short lived illness. Viral infections are so common that testing of blood or poo is most often not required – they don’t tell us anything we can’t already work out.
Although there’s a perception that food poisoning is often the cause, this is in fact quite rare, although your GP or other doctor will always take a history of what you have eaten in the few days prior, just in case.
The main risk of gastroenteritis is dehydration and those at most risk are the very young, the very old or those already unwell with other illnesses. If you or someone you care for fall into one of those categories it’s wise to seek review early from your GP or ED rather than self manage at home.
The key to managing gastro is fluids and plenty of them, thorough and constant hand washing and time off work – at least 48 hours after symptoms have ceased (particularly for those people who work in health or hospitality environments) – otherwise you might start your own mini outbreak!
A guide on what to do if your kid has gastro here.
And a nice factsheet for the big kids.
And remember when in doubt – seek help. We’re always happy to see a sick patient just don’t be offended if we wash our hands immediately after touching you! You can book online to see me at Watson General practice here, or call 6248 7005.