What causes gastro?

Gastroenteritis is a short-term illness due to inflammation of the digestive system. Symptoms can include abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting. Although there are a number of possible causes of gastro, including bacteria and their toxins, parasites, some chemicals and medications, the cause is often viral.

Is Gastro contagious?

‘Stomach bug’ and ‘stomach flu’ are also names for viral gastroenteritis, and it can be contagious. Infection is caused by contact with other infected people through, for example, touching contaminated hands, faeces or vomit, or by drinking contaminated water or food. It usually takes 10–72 hours following exposure before you become ill with viral gastroenteritis, depending on the type of virus. Infected people can continue to infect others for many days after their symptoms have ended, and some people can carry viruses which cause viral gastro without experiencing symptoms themselves.


How to reduce spreading illness with Gastro

Follow the basic hygiene rules:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and warm running water for at least 15 seconds
  • Don’t share towels and face washers with a person who has gastro
  • Ensure that people with gastro do not prepare or handle food that others will eat
  • Keep all kitchen surfaces and equipment clean
  • Clean the toilet and bathroom regularly, including the toilet seat, door handles and taps
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid spreading gastro to other people


What to eat when you have gastro

More important than eating is rehydrating with water when you have diarrhoea associated with gastro. Drinking water is top priority – to replace fluids, or prevent dehydration, a specially formulated oral rehydration solution is recommended.

As you feel better you can start to eat and return to your normal diet and routine when ready.

If you are concerned that your symptoms are severe and are not improving, then seek medical attention.