Words: Dr Narayan Deshpande

You know it: gastroenteritis [GE], or stomach flu. This is an intestinal infection marked by diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever. It is spread by contact with an infected person, and through contaminated food, water, or ‘touching’ a contaminated place. The incidence of GE cases, in India, is 10 million, every year. Children are more vulnerable, also more affected, than adults.

GE may be caused by viruses, like norovirus in adults and rotavirus in children; also, bacteria like E Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Staphylococcus may be responsible. Sharing utensils, towels, or food, with someone who has one of the viruses may also trigger the condition. The individual may be contagious for a few days, and up to two weeks. In norovirus, one can transmit the infection when they begin to feel ill. Symptoms develop within one, or two, days following infection. Although you typically feel better after a day, or two, you are contagious for a few days after you recover.

Rotavirus triggered symptoms appear 1-2 days after exposure, but the child is contagious 1-2 days before exposure. In other words, the child is contagious before the appearance of symptoms and up to two weeks after recovery.

Bacterial gastroenteritis [Food poisoning]. Types of bacteria causing bacterial gastroenteritis are Campylobacter jejuni, E Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus and Yersinia.

Intake of some metal containing foods may also be the cause.

Side-effects of certain conventional drugs, like Ampicillin, may sometimes cause GE.

GE triggered by food, aside from meat and poultry, include:

  • Improper handling
  • Eating unhygienic food, or water
  • Food prepared in unclean utensils
  • Dairy products, or food containing mayonnaise that has been out of the refrigerator for too long
  • Frozen, or refrigerated, foods not stored at a proper temperature and kept for a long time outside before consumption
  • Intake of impure water, or adulterated drinks.

Nervous diarrhoea: Homeopathy emphasises on the nervousness factor leading to diarrhoea.

Diarrhoea, cramps, nausea vomiting and low grade fever are common symptoms of any type of gastroenteritis. Persistent diarrhoea and vomiting can lead to dehydration — this may require hospital admission.

Avoiding intake of contaminated food, or water, and washing hands with soap before eating food may prevent gastroenteritis.

Rest and rehydration are the mainstay of treatment. They can be self-healing. As supportive care, fluid replacement, oral rehydration therapy and IV fluids are recommended, especially —

  • If you are an adult
  • If you are unable to keep liquids down for 24 hours
  • If vomiting, or diarrhoea, lasts for more than two days, or when vomiting contains blood
  • If you have severe stomach pain
  • If you have fever >1040 Fahrenheit, or 400

The inference is simple. You’ve to consult a physician promptly.

Diarrhoea in babies shouldn’t be neglected. They get dehydrated fast. Older children can be given electrolytes. They should not be given full strength juices, soda, or sports drinks. You should call the paediatrician when the child can’t drink for several hours, or is peeing less: 4-6 hours for babies and 6-8 hours for older children.

Signs of dehydration in children are crying with few, or no tears, dry mouth, or cracked lips, sleepy or less alert, have high fever, blood in vomit, or poop, diarrhoea, or vomiting for 24 hours. This requires immediate treatment by a paediatrician.

Vaccine for GE in children is available. Rotavirus vaccine is given in a three-dose schedule at six, ten and 14 weeks of age. It is given orally.

Homeopathic Treatment

Homeopathic treatment consists of certain ‘go-to’ remedies, along with supportive care.

  • Arsenicum album. This is one of the best remedies to treat gastroenteritis, when symptoms ‘match.’ The indications are: watery stools without tenesmus, thirst for small quantities of cold water at short intervals, extreme prostration, great anxiety and restlessness.
  • Aloe socotrina. This remedy is indicated when there are watery stools passed as from a bunghole, with a feeling of uncertainty to retaining the bowels.
  • Pulsatilla pratensis. Diarrhoea from eating fatty foods, absolute thirstlessness, in spite of loss of fluids. Bitter taste in the mouth; diarrhoea, especially in children.
  • Dulcamara. Diarrhoea from getting the feet wet; damp basements. Nightly evacuations, slimy and bilious.
  • Podophyllum. Dysenteric and bilious diarrhoea. Diarrhoea, early in the morning, with offensive smell.
  • Camphora bromata. In sudden and recent GE, with chilliness, cold face, skin and hands.
  • Antimonium crudum. Watery diarrhoea with disordered stomach, white coated tongue, eructation, nausea, and diarrhoea, especially in the aged.
  • Veratrum album. Copious, watery, dark evacuations, cramps, great thirst and vomiting, coldness of the body and rapid sinking of strength.
  • Gelsemium sempervirens. Nervousness of mind, leading to diarrhoea in students; diarrhoea, owing to anticipatory [examination] anxiety, or fear.

It is imperative that homeopathic treatment is best taken under the guidance and supervision of a professional homeopathic physician.

Dr NARAYAN C DESHPANDE, BSc, MD [Hom], is Author & Ambassador, ThinkWellness360. He’s formerly Officiating Professor & HOD, A H Medical College, Bengaluru, Professor Emeritus, and former in-charge Principal, Government Homeopathic Medical College & Hospital, Bengaluru, former PG Guide, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Karnataka, former PG Examiner, Mangalore University, MGR University of Health Sciences, Chennai, Health University, Salem, and former Health Expert, Karnataka Public Service Commission, Bengaluru. A recipient of the prestigious Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Award for his 35+ years of commendable service to homeopathic education and alternative healthcare, Dr Deshpande lives in Bengaluru, India.

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