If an adult or a child has diarrhea, you should not immediately grab onto antibiotics. After all, intestinal infections are viral and bacterial, and antibiotics are needed only in the second case, and with viral diarrhea, this is just a futile blow to an already weakened body. Therefore, you first need to pass tests and figure out the origin of the infection.
As a rule, the fact that the infection is viral (it can be caused by adeno-, rota- and enteroviruses) can be indicated by a sudden and abrupt onset of the disease, when a high temperature rises quickly, vomiting and loose stools begin. Usually, such diseases do not last long (3 days) and go away on their own, without treatment. All that the patient needs is just an abundance of fluid, rest, diet and intake of enterosorbents. But bacterial infections usually develop gradually, last longer and more severely, and antibiotics are already needed to treat them.
This is not a trifle
However, you shouldn’t be too lighthearted about viral intestinal infections. They are especially dangerous for the elderly with cardiovascular problems, as well as for children under 5 years of age. Their frequent diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, which leads to disruption of the heart muscle and a high risk of death. Therefore, if there are more than 10 episodes of diarrhea per day or loose stools are accompanied by a high temperature (above 38.5 degrees), it is better to immediately call an ambulance. After all, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children after pneumonia.
The most common cause of diarrhea in babies under three years old is rotavirus infection. Despite the existence of a vaccine against this disease, according to the WHO, more than half a million babies die from it worldwide every year. Rotavirus vaccination is not included in many national calendars and only parents who know about the dangers of rotavirus infection vaccinate children. This contagious infectious disease mainly affects the stomach and intestines of the patient. As a rule, rotavirus infection (as with any viral diarrhea) is characterized by an acute onset. Usually, against the background of normal health, a sharp jump in temperature occurs, other signs of SARS appear (runny nose and sore throat). Then there are gastrointestinal manifestations: nausea, vomiting, liquid watery abundant stools without admixture of blood.
How can you get infected?
It is as easy as shelling pears to catch rotavirus, since this causative agent of the disease is found almost everywhere and is resistant to environmental conditions, therefore it spreads at a high speed. In addition, the immunity to this disease is not very stable (the vaccine protects against a severe form for several years), so you can get sick with it many times throughout your life. There are several ways of transmission of the virus: this is contact-household (through unwashed hands or contaminated objects), and airborne.
By the way, you can get a rotavirus infection not only from a sick person, but also from a virus carrier. As a rule, adults with strong immunity transmit rotavirus without realizing it, since they do not have any corresponding symptoms. But for those around them, nevertheless, they pose a great danger. So, children often become infected with this infection not from their peers in children’s groups, but from their own mothers and fathers.
Why do you need tests
It is almost impossible to find out without tests whether viruses or bacteria have caused diarrhea, therefore it is better to consult a doctor, especially if on the third day of the disease it does not become easier for the patient. But in the case when a child is sick, of course, one cannot wait for three days. The doctor may prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics, and if they turn out to be ineffective, he will recommend taking a bacterial culture of feces to determine the sensitivity of microbes to the antibiotic. This will help you choose the right drug.
If you suspect a viral nature of diarrhea, you need to take blood tests to determine the RNA of rotavirus. By the way, among 7 groups of rotaviruses, the most common causative agent is group A rotavirus (occurs in 90% of cases). The genetic material of this virus can also be detected in feces (by PCR-polymerase chain reaction). Stool analysis for rotavirus can confirm the diagnosis of rotavirus infection.
For the choice of therapy, these studies are not relevant, since the treatment of viral diarrhea is symptomatic, and, moreover, by the time the analysis is ready (after 3 days), the disease most often goes away on its own. But research will help identify the cause of diarrhea in children and adults. In addition, if you suspect rotavirus, it will not hurt to pass tests to all family members in which a small child grows up, since adults can be carriers of a disease that is extremely dangerous for children under 3 years of age. Finally, tests for rotavirus infection are needed to examine contacts in kindergartens and schools in order to detect the virus early and start treatment on time.
If there is a suspicion of a viral or bacterial intestinal infection, but it is not clear what kind of infection causes the symptoms, an OCI test will be the optimal study. This test allows for the analysis of feces to determine the presence of rota-, noro- and adenoviruses, as well as bacteria – salmonella and shigella (causative agents of salmonellosis and dysentery).