Getting Answers: doctors seeing rise in gastroenteritis cases

Getting Answers: doctors seeing rise in gastroenteritis cases
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 2:50 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - With cold and flu season ramping up, healthcare workers across the Bay State are seeing a rise in all sorts of viruses and illnesses, including gastroenteritis.

Gastroenteritis, commonly known as the stomach flu, is one of the many viruses that is getting us sick this cold and flu season. While it is not uncommon, many health experts we spoke with said they are expecting to see it in higher amounts than normal this winter season.

“Of the stomach virus, or gastroenteritis, we are seeing that mixed in with a whole bunch of other things that is going around, such as the flu or even COVID, which can often present with very similar symptoms,” said Lawrence Benjamin, a physician assistant with AFC Urgent Care.

Benjamin told us although it’s often referred to as the stomach flu, that can be misleading since the virus is not related to influenza.

“We do get vaccinated against Influenza A and B, hopefully, and it does cause similar symptoms and it can just be GI symptoms or gastroenteritis symptoms…No, the influenza vaccines, the flu A and B vaccines, won’t really protect you against gastroenteritis,” Benjamin added.

Some common gastroenteritis symptoms are stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, and fever. Benjamin told Western Mass News that the stomach flu can look like other infections, like the flu or COVID-19, and often increase this time of year.

“With every seasonal change, you can always expect an increase in any infection related to season prevalence, including the stomach bug,” Benjamin noted.

Benjamin said the best way to prevent getting seriously sick this season is to get your COVID-19 and flu vaccines. He also said it’s important because it is possible to get more than one of these illnesses at the same time.