Viral gastroenteritis is a fairly common intestinal infection that can be unpleasant and disruptive..
In 2021, 27 cases of gastroenteritis in Singapore, involving a total of 800 people, were investigated during a four-month period. Just a month later, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) forced a popular noodle restaurant to suspend operations for over a month when a similar incident that affected 68 people occured. While some people may recover from gastroenteritis on their own, others may find the need to visit their general practitioners to manage their symptoms and feel better!
What causes viral gastroenteritis?
For starters, contaminated food and drink and sharing utensils with an infected person can cause you to contract viral gastroenteritis. You can also get gastroenteritis from touching contaminated surfaces, especially if you forget to wash your hands and then rub your fingers against your eyes or mouth. Although you don’t have to worry about water supply contamination issues in Singapore, improper food handling can still pass on the viruses, bacteria or parasites responsible for gastroenteritis. We recommend that when eating in Hawker stalls to always seek those with a SFA rating ‘A’.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis, like stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting can appear 12 to 48 hours after infection. Symptoms can persist over a period of three days.
Who is at risk for gastroenteritis?
Although gastroenteritis can affect anybody, not every person is equally impacted by gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis is more likely to occur in places where people conduct day-to-day activities in close quarters, such as in schools, dormitories and nursing homes.
Special care should be taken to protect the elderly and the very young, as well as those with weakened immune systems. Because people with severe gastroenteritis are at risk for dehydration, due to symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea, taking small sips of water often is important.
How to protect against gastroenteritis
If you’ve ever experienced symptoms of gastroenteritis like painful stomach cramps and loose stools, you know that it is worth taking the effort to prevent contracting it!. You can take action to protect yourself and your family by doing the following:
- Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before preparing food or eating, and after handling diapers.
- Wash contaminated clothes immediately
- Disinfect contaminated surfaces
- Wash fruit and vegetables before eating
- Use separate personal items, such as towels or utensils
- Ensure food is thoroughly cooked, especially when it comes to shellfish and oysters
- Refrain from food preparation if you feel unwell
- Check if your childcare centre has separate rooms for changing diapers and preparing, or serving food. Is there a sink in the diaper-changing area? Can diaper disposal be conducted in a sanitary way?
When to see a doctor
Should you have persistent symptoms of gastroenteritis like nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, consider consulting a general practitioner. A doctor will be able to help you make needed adjustments in your diet while your stomach settles down, and prescribe medications which can help manage your symptoms. He or she will be able to issue a medical certificate so you can rest while you get through gastroenteritis.
At Osler Health, we are always ready to care for you and your family. Our centrally located clinics in Singapore in Star Vista and Raffles Hotel Arcade are easily accessible via public and private transport. Our friendly reception staff at any of our clinics will be happy to assist you in making an appointment with one of our dedicated doctors. For any enquiries, don’t hesitate to contact us via email or phone call. Besides gastroenteritis, you can also learn more about the difference between chikungunya and dengue, as well as what treatment for intestinal worms looks like.