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Gastro: the forgotten flu

Along with colds and flus, incidences of gastro or ‘stomach flu’ seem to increase during the winter months.

St John of God Health Care gastroGastroenteritis (commonly known as gastro or stomach flu) occurs when your digestive system becomes inflamed or infected.

You can catch it by ingesting the gastro-causing germs which then travel down your digestive tract.

This usually happens when you get the germs on your hands by touching something that is contaminated and then touching your mouth. It is very contagious and spreads quickly.

The symptoms

When you have gastro, you may experience some or all of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Headaches

What to do if you get gastro

If you have gastro it is vital you stay at home and don’t prepare food for others until your symptoms have completely cleared. 

This will reduce the risk of the virus being passed on to anyone else.

Frequent vomiting and/or diarrhoea may also cause you to become dehydrated. So it is important that you drink plenty of water.

The best defence against gastro

Unfortunately, there is no vaccination to guard against getting gastro, so the best defence is to practice good hand hygiene.

Remember to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after you use the toilet, change a nappy or clean up after someone who is sick.

It is also important to clean your hands before you prepare food or eat, and after gardening or dealing with pets.

About the author

Tanya Mason-Brown is the St John of God Health Care Group Infection Control Coordinator and has more than seven years’ experience in this field. She is also an experience medical laboratory scientist and holds a Masters in Medical Laboratory Science. She has a particular interest in microbiology and infectious diseases