Conquering Gastro Infections: at Urgent Care Brisbane
Types of Gastro Infections
Gastro infections, also known as gastroenteritis, can primarily be classified into two types:
Common viruses like rotavirus, norovirus, or adenovirus can cause viral gastroenteritis, often dubbed the “stomach flu“. These viruses invade the lining of your gut, leading to inflammation and symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.
Bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, or Escherichia coli (E. coli) can trigger bacterial gastroenteritis. This often occurs when you ingest contaminated food or water, which is why it’s essential to wash your hands and maintain hygiene when preparing food.
Common Micro-Organisms Causing Gastro Infections in Australia
The most prevalent causes of gastro infections in Australia are Norovirus and Rotavirus for viral gastroenteritis and Campylobacter and Salmonella for bacterial gastroenteritis. These organisms can spread swiftly from person to person, particularly in closed settings like childcare centres, nursing homes, or cruise ships.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis and Red Flags
Typical symptoms of gastroenteritis include diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, nausea, and fever. However, it’s crucial to watch out for “red flags” or signs of severe infection, such as:
- Persistent high fever
- Severe abdominal pain
- Blood in stools or vomit
- Signs of dehydration, including excessive thirst, dry mouth, dark yellow urine, or feeling dizzy when standing up
Assessing Dehydration and Investigations
- Mild Dehydration: You might experience thirst, dry lips, and a slightly dry mouth. A quick skin pinch test (the skin takes a little longer to return to normal when pinched) can confirm the mild dehydration. You may be advised to consume oral rehydration solutions or plenty of fluids.
- Moderate Dehydration: Symptoms might progress to feeling very thirsty, dry mouth, sunken eyes, and feeling lethargic. We may recommend you for intravenous (IV) rehydration at our centre if oral rehydration is not sufficient.
- Severe Dehydration: This is a medical emergency that can be life-threatening, and immediate IV rehydration is crucial. Symptoms include extreme thirst, very dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, dark yellow urine or no urine output, and lethargy or unconsciousness.
- Faecal PCR and Microscopy, Culture, and Sensitivity (MCS): This test helps identify the type of bacteria, virus, or parasite causing the infection. A stool sample will be sent to the lab where it will be examined under a microscope. Culture allows for growing the organism to confirm its presence, and sensitivity testing ensures the correct antibiotic is chosen if necessary.
- Full Blood Count (FBC): An FBC gives us an overview of your general health status. In the case of a gastro infection, it helps identify whether there’s an elevated white blood cell count, indicating an infection.
- C-Reactive Protein (CRP): This is a protein that the liver makes when there is inflammation in the body. High levels of CRP can indicate that there’s inflammation somewhere in the body, including due to gastro infections.
- Serum Electrolytes and Kidney Function Tests: This test assesses the levels of essential electrolytes in your blood (like sodium, potassium, and chloride), as well as the health of your kidneys. Severe gastro infections and resultant dehydration can impact your kidneys, making this an essential part of the testing process.
By promptly assessing the severity of dehydration and conducting the necessary investigations, the medical team at Urgent Care Brisbane can ensure that you receive the most appropriate and effective treatment for your gastro infection.
- Oral Rehydration: Drinking plenty of fluids is the first step in treating gastro infections. This could include water, broths, or specially prepared oral rehydration solutions available over the counter. The key is to take small, frequent sips to gradually restore the fluid balance and replace the lost electrolytes.
- Nausea Management: Medications to reduce nausea and vomiting may be prescribed to help make you more comfortable and also to facilitate oral rehydration.
- Intravenous (IV) Therapy: If oral rehydration is not sufficient or possible due to severe vomiting, IV hydration therapy may be necessary. This involves administering fluids directly into the bloodstream through a vein, usually in the arm. This method allows for quicker rehydration and can be closely monitored by the medical team.
- Antibiotics: In the case of bacterial enteritis, antibiotics may be necessary. These will be selected based on the sensitivity report from the stool test to ensure the most effective treatment. It is essential to complete the full course of antibiotics even if symptoms improve before they are finished.
- Severe Cases – Transfer to Hospital: For severe cases, or when complications arise, the medical team may arrange for immediate transfer to a hospital. This might be necessary if symptoms are severe, if there’s a high risk of complications, or if the patient is part of a high-risk group, such as the elderly or people with weakened immune systems.
At Urgent Care Brisbane, our experienced emergency doctors and nurses are well-equipped to manage gastro infections and make the best decisions about your care. Our aim is to prevent hospital admissions where possible, providing high-quality care in a comfortable, non-hospital environment.
How Urgent Care Brisbane Can Help
At Urgent Care Brisbane, we’re committed to providing swift and effective treatment to patients with gastro infections, sparing them the ordeal of a hospital emergency visit. Our approach includes: Comprehensive Assessment: On arrival, our team will conduct a thorough evaluation to identify your symptoms’ severity and cause. This includes a medical history review, physical examination, and necessary investigations.
- Personalized Treatment: We’ll devise a treatment plan tailored to your needs based on your assessment results. This could involve oral or IV rehydration, medication to relieve symptoms such as nausea, and antibiotics for bacterial infections.
- Ongoing Support: We will continue to monitor your condition and adjust the treatment as necessary. If the situation requires, we are equipped to coordinate a hospital transfer.
- Education: We believe that informed patients make the best recovery. Our team will advise on managing symptoms at home, preventing spread to others, and recognizing when to seek further medical help.
- Follow-up Care: Even after your initial treatment, our care continues. We’ll arrange for follow-up appointments to ensure your recovery is progressing well.
By seeking help from Urgent Care Brisbane at the first signs of a gastro infection, you can limit the impact of the condition and speed up your recovery. Remember, the quicker you act, the better.
Gastro infections can indeed be challenging, but they don’t have to be daunting. Equipped with knowledge, the right medical support, and small precautions like washing hands and drinking plenty of fluids, you can conquer gastro infections confidently. At Urgent Care Brisbane, we’re always here to help, ensuring that gastro infections are nothing more than a minor bump on your health journey.