I visited Cairns, in Tropical Queensland, last weekend. I went to Kuranda and saw lavish waterfalls, called Baron Falls and a magnificent Butterfly Farm, where a cobalt blue Ulysses Butterfly sat on me. That was the highlight of the trip.
The lowlight was a result of me not taking any alcohol gel or wipes to wash my hands after I used a public toilet with no soap (and urine drops all over the seat)…

As a result, I felt crap (pun intended) for 2 days and infective gastroenteritis. Here, are my tips on how to cope with this extremely unpleasant but common illness.

  • Wash your hands well to avoid contracting gastroenteritis in the first place- the most common route of infection is the faecal-oral route. Yes, bacteria, parasites or viruses present in someone else’s poo have entered your mouth.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep up with whatever you are losing. You might need 3-4 litres of fluid per day, and need to drink fruit juice, home made lemonade, soups, as well as water. Jelly and Ice Lollies are also excellent.
  • Water alone is not good for you, as you need electrolytes, as well, like potassium and sodium, as well as sugars. Electrolyte Replacement Salts, which you mix with water, are excellent.
  • Fluid is especially important, as dehydration is dangerous, especially for children. Children need fluid according to their weight, but as a guide, a 1year old baby weighing 10kg will need at least 1000ml of liquid in 24 hours – breast-feeding is best, so make sure your baby is taking much more milk than normal if he/she has diarrhoea.
  • If you or your child is not making a normal amount of urine, this means you are dehydrated and need to take in more liquids, and see your doctor.
  • Paracetamol might help with any abdominal cramps or fever, or you could try Buscopan from a pharmacist.
  • You will probably vomit too, but this should pass soon. If you cannot keep any fluids down, you must see a doctor, as you may need intravenous fluids.

You must go and see a Doctor if:

  • You are unwell for more than 2 days.
  • Your child is unwell and more tired or lethargic than usual.
  • You cannot keep in any liquids, as you are vomiting so much.
  • There is blood or mucus in your diarrhoea, as there might be another illness causing the loose stools.
  • You are having severe abdominal pain.
  • You have been losing weight recently.
  • You have worms visible in your stools.
  • You have ongoing symptoms, as you may need antibiotics after your doctor takes a stool culture from you to test.
  • Any other symptoms that worry you.

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