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Symptoms and what to eat when you have a gastrointestinal infection

Intestinal infections usually arise after you consumed contaminated food or water. You may develop a fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and frequent diarrhea. It is important to see a doctor if symptoms do not go away within 2 days.

It is possible to avoid intestinal infections if you improve hygiene habits, both personal and food wise, and it is recommended you wash your hands after using the bathroom as washing well foods before handling them.

Symptoms and what to eat when you have a gastrointestinal infection

Symptoms of Intestinal infections

The symptoms of intestinal infections, can appear straight after eating contaminated foods or up to 3 days, depending on the type of microorganism, severity of the infection, age and general state of health. These symptoms may be:

  • Colics and abdominal pain;
  • Diarrhea, where blood can appear in the stool;
  • Vomits;
  • Headache;
  • Excess gas;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Fever.

It is important to remember that the symptoms of intestinal infections are more serious and worrying in children and elderly people, because they have a more fragile immune system, which may favor the faster proliferation of microorganisms, making the infection more serious, as well as increasing weight loss and the risk of dehydration.

Risk factors for intestinal infection

People with weak immune systems such as patients with AIDS or in treatment for cancer, children, pregnant women and the elderly have a higher chance of having intestinal infections.

In addition, people who have gastritis or heartburn or who use drugs to control stomach acidity, such as Omeprazole, are at greater risk of having intestinal infections because the acidity of the stomach is reduced, making it difficult to fight viruses and bacteria.

How to prevent intestinal infections

To prevent intestinal infections, it is important to follow certain cautions with personal hygiene and foods, such as:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or touching pets;
  • Wash your hands well before and after picking on any food;
  • Avoid consumption of meat and eggs poorly;
  • Consume filtered or boiled water.

As long as symptoms of food infection are present, it is important to avoid preparing food for others to prevent them from getting sick as well. In addition, you should avoid eating foods that are more likely to cause intestinal infections, such as sushi and poorly cooked eggs.

Symptoms and what to eat when you have a gastrointestinal infection

What to eat when you have an intestinal infection

During the treatment for an intestinal infection, it is important to drink a lot of water to replenish the fluids lost during diarrhea and vomiting. You should eat foods easily digested, like white cooked rice, pasta, white meats with little seasoning and cooked fruits without peel. Water, strained juices and tea are the best options to drink, however it's recommend you avoid tea with caffeine, like green, black or mate tea.

For snacks it is indicated you eat biscuits without filling, white bread with fruit jelly, natural yogurts and white cheeses, like ricotta, because they are poor in fact and easily digested.

What to avoid in your diet

While you have diarrhea, you should avoid eating vegetables and fruit with peel, even in soups or cooked salads, because they are rich in fibers that will increase intestinal transit and favor diarrhea.

You should also avoid foods rich in fat, like red meats, butter, whole milk, yellow cheeses, bacon, sausages and processed foods, because the excess fat also facilitates intestinal transit and turns digestion hard.

Avoid foods that increase the formation of gas, like cabbage, egg, beans, sweet corn, peas and desserts rich in sugar, because they favor diarrhea and increase abdominal pain.

Foods that should be avoided
Foods that should be avoided

How to avoid dehydration

To avoid dehydration it is important you drink 2 liters of water a day. However you can also use homemade saline solution, mixing:

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar;
  • 1 teaspoon of salt;
  • 1 liter of filtered or boiled water.

You should leave the homemade saline solution in a separate bottle so that the person can drink it through the day, while symptoms last. This saline solution is also indicated for children, pregnant women and the elderly.

See also some options of remedies to treat an intestinal infection at home.

When to go to the doctor

A doctor should be seen if symptoms to not get better after 2 days for children and 3 days when its an adult, or if there is blood in the stool.

Babies under the age of 3 months should be taken straight to the doctor if they present symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, while children under the age of 3 should be taken to a pediatrician is symptoms last for more than 12 hours. See which remedies can be used to treat a intestinal infection.

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