Over Christmas break, I had a chance to apply my medical knowledge at home when my sister became sick. She had abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Since I started second year with microbiology, it was still (relatively) fresh in my mind. I found myself interviewing my sister as I had been learning how to do on actors back at school. Based on her symptoms, I deduced that she had gastroenteritis. The only remaining piece of the puzzle was determining the causative agent.
I assumed that it was an infection but I could not seem to remember how to tell whether it was bacterial or viral. I recalled that when I had symptoms like these myself, I remembered my doctor saying I had a stomach virus. Armed with that anecdote, I told my parents that I thought that my sister had viral gastroenteritis. They seemed a bit taken aback when I informed them my sister had to simply stay the course and not receive any treatment. I stressed the importance of my sister drinking fluids to make up for how much she was losing. Later, I did a quick Google search to determine what proportion of gastroenteritis was viral or bacterial and learned that gastroenteritis is predominantly viral. Naturally, since I’m only a second year (and I can’t prescribe anything), my family sought the opinion of our family physician. When they came back, I asked them what the physician had told them. Turns out that I was right on the money!