Aug 13, 2008

Health - Gastroenteritis can be dangerous

If you have been ignoring gastroenteritis symptoms for long, better take note. Not many would know that if not cured in the beginning itself, gastroenteritis could result in acute kidney failure and, in some cases, even heart attack, say doctors.

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, caused by common viruses, bacteria and parasites. The usual symptoms are acute diarrhoea accompanied by vomiting, abdomen pain and, occasionally, fever.

"Sometimes carelessness on the part of the patient suffering from mild to moderate gastroenteritis can result in serious complications," said Dr Harsh Kapoor, senior gastroenterologist consultant, Max Hospital, Gurgaon.

A healthy person can have pre-renal failure if he/she is suffering from gastroenteritis. Acute diarrhoea causes severe dehydration, which in turn decreases the blood circulation in the body. This results in low blood pressure.

Because of the decreased blood flow, kidneys become sluggish and can even results in acute renal failure, he said.

Those who already suffer from some heart ailment also need to be particularly cautious. "The sudden drop in blood pressure means the heart needs to work harder and faster than normal. And if a person already has a heart condition, it can precipitate a heart attack in him or her," said Dr M.P. Sharma, Head of department, medicine and gastroenterology, Rockland Hospital.

The loss of fluids due to vomiting and diarrhoea can be replenished at a reasonably early stage through intravenous fluids to avoid complications.

According to doctors, gastroenteritis can be easily cured at home if the condition is mild, which requires a lot of rest and oral rehydration. Hospitalisation is a must if the condition does not improve. In that case, a patient needs to be given intravenous treatment and antibiotics.

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