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Monday June 24, 2024

Gastroenteritis starts hitting the region

By Muhammad Qasim
May 25, 2024
A representational image of a patient suffering from abdominal pain. — Pixabay/File
A representational image of a patient suffering from abdominal pain. — Pixabay/File

Rawalpindi:Almost all public and private sector healthcare facilities in this region of the country have started receiving patients with the complaints of gastroenteritis and according to health experts, the situation may worsen in the coming days if proper preventive measures and good hygiene are not adopted by the individuals.

Gastroenteritis, commonly known as gastro, causes a number of complications including life-threatening conditions among vulnerable populations and it is so mainly because of lack of sufficient awareness among the public on what measures must be taken to avoid gastroenteritis and like infections in hot and humid climate that helps bacteria to grow faster.

Complications of gastroenteritis claim a good number of lives every year in Pakistan and according to health experts, the major reasons behind death among gastroenteritis patients include late presentation to the hospitals, acute kidney failures and ignorance of the patients and their families.

Gastroenteritis is an infection of the stomach and intestine. It is a group of diseases caused by different viruses, bacteria, their toxins and parasites. The most common symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting. Deaths from the condition are common in developing countries like Pakistan especially in children under five years of age.

It is important to mention here that gastroenteritis is considered as the number five cause of death in Pakistan and number one cause of presentation to hospitals in summer. Gastroenteritis, generally known as water and food borne infections, has already started hitting populations in scattered areas of the country including twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Among the patients of gastro in old age, multiple factors add to their miseries like pre-existing diseases related to heart, kidney and lungs along with hypertension and diabetes and according to health experts, there is a need to create awareness among the public on danger signs and factors that include intractable vomiting, altered consciousness, decreased or absent urine formation, diarrhoea with bleeding, post diarrhoea obstruction and intestinal perforation. Patients over 65 years of age or below five years of age are at greater risk of severe complications of gastro.

Many health experts believe that in a patient with diarrhoea, only ORS is the standard therapy, at least one packet in one litre of water daily. Many studies have revealed that the initial six hours of the onset of acute gastro is the golden time to save the life and gastrointestinal tract of the patient. If a patient is treated within six hours with IV fluids and medicine, the chances of complications are reduced to less than five per cent.

If a patient of gastro feels obstruction in urination or his or her urine gets scanty, the patient should be given vigorous oral fluids to save kidneys as acute kidney failure is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality among chronic patients.

Gastro is 100 per cent curable but unfortunately, patients with it are still dying in Pakistan and the main reasons behind it are lack of awareness, late presentation to hospitals, use of anti-motility medicines, lack of adequate fluid intake and financial restraints to get proper treatment.

Poor hygienic conditions at food places and vendors contaminate locally prepared drinks and foodstuff while flies in summer help spreading infections further because of sale of uncovered food, cut fruits and uncovered drinks. Experts suggest that all these must be avoided.