Everything You Need to Know About Stomach Flu! 

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

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You may not have much in the way of symptoms at first, but your stomach flu can turn into something more serious if you’re not careful. 

Before you know it, you’ll be running to the bathroom every 20 minutes, and your fever will be so high that you’ll need a doctor’s help to make it through the day.

The stomach flu is a very unpleasant illness. It is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in some cases, fever. The stomach flu is caused by a virus that can be transmitted through contact with the mouth of someone who has the virus. It can also be transmitted through food or drink contaminated with the virus.

Prevention is the best key to managing the spread of stomach flu.

This section will give an overview of the causes, symptoms, and treatment of stomach flu.

Stomach Flu: What Is It? 

The stomach flu is a viral gastroenteritis that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It usually lasts for about two days. During this time, you may feel tired or weak, and some people develop a fever. 

You can get the stomach flu by touching infected surfaces or objects that other people have touched. For example, if you’re in an elevator and someone contaminates the surface of the dashboard, you can easily get sick after touching the area. 

If someone has diarrhea and then touches your face with their hands or their fingers while they’re wiping themselves, that’s how they could pass it on to you. You could also get sick from contaminated food or water. There are several viruses, like norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus, and adenovirus, which can cause viral gastroenteritis. 

Once you get the stomach flu, you are contagious. These viruses can spread easily in shared communities like nurseries, hostels, or among ship crews.

Duration of Gastroenteritis

The stomach flu lasts anywhere from one to three days. The duration of the stomach flu depends on a person’s age, as well as their health and immune system.

How Does the Stomach Flu Spread?

The stomach flu can be contracted through contact with an infected person, or by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

What Exactly Causes Stomach Flu? 

It can be passed from person to person or by touching surfaces or objects that contain infected droplets of saliva from someone who has the virus. Droplets can generate from coughing, sneezing, or talking.

The causes of stomach flu are quite varied, but they all have one thing in common: an overactive immune system. 

The flu virus is spread through droplets from the sneeze or cough of someone who has it. This can happen when you interact with other people (for example, on a crowded street). 

You can also get the flu by touching objects that have been contaminated with viruses, such as doorknobs, desks, etc. 

Stomach flu is quite common during the cold winter months because people tend to be less active during the cold weather and spend more time indoors than usual. This means there’s more opportunity for them to come into contact with other people who might have the flu.

Symptoms of Stomach Flu 

Symptoms of the flu include: 

  • Fever over 100 degrees F (38 C) 
  • Diarrhea: The bowel opens or the patient goes to the toilet more than 3 times a day and the stools are more watery in consistency. 
  • Headache  
  • Nausea  
  • Muscle aches 
  • Sore throat 
  • Coughing up mucus 
  • Sinus congestion 
  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Dehydration

Stomach flu can be fatal. Dehydration is a major factor in stomach flu.

Vomiting and diarrhea caused by stomach flu can result in severe dehydration. It is important to have fluids available for those who are sick.

The body loses water through the following:

  • sweating, urinating, vomiting, diarrhea, and breathing

Stomach Flu Treatment

There are various remedies for stomach flu-like home remedies, medicines, and other treatments.

Stomach Flu Home Remedies

Staying hydrated is the most effective way to treat stomach flu. The more you drink, the better your chances of recovery. Here are some other ways to help your body fight off the bugs:

  • Drink tea or hot water to relieve diarrhea.
  • Eat foods that are high in fiber or probiotics. Some examples include sugar-free yogurt, beans, and kimchi.
  • Chew on the ginger root to reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water is always good) to prevent dehydration and help your body flush out any toxins from your system. 

Foods to Consume 

Since you are suffering from gastric inflammation and diarrhea, your bowels won’t tolerate much of the foods that you eat daily.

Physicians advise taking the BRAT diet during diarrhea, which can be easily digested by the patient. 

BRAT Stands for

Banana

Bananas are high in potassium, which helps flush excess fluids from your system and helps your body maintain its blood pressure. It can change the consistency of your stools.

Rice

While white rice can be easier to digest than brown rice during this period, White rice has a low fibre content. Rice cakes and rice crackers have high fibre content that will reduce watery stools. 

Apples

Apple and apple maple syrups are high in vitamins and easy to digest. 

Toasts

Toast with a fruit spread on it has lower fiber content and can digest better than whole-grain bread. 

Foods to Avoid During a Stomach Flu

While you can’t always avoid everything, here are a few things to avoid when you’re getting sick.

Foods to avoid during the stomach flu include:

  • Candy/junk food
  • alcohol (even small amounts)
  • Caffeine-including coffee and soda, and even decaf tea.
  • Fried or fatty foods
  • Chewing gum or mints
  • fried chicken, fried fish, bacon
  • Fried or roasted potatoes
  • Dairy products (cheese, milk) 

Red Meat

If you still feel sick, then it is advised not to eat any red meat or dairy products because this will worsen your symptoms.

Spicy food

Some people believe that spicy foods can alleviate stomach flu symptoms.

Others think that it will make the stomach flu worse. The truth is, spicy food can help with the stomach flu if you have a mild case of the illness. But it may make the symptoms worse if you have a more severe case of the illness.

How to Prevent Stomach Flu

The stomach flu is caused by a virus that is transmitted through food or drink. The virus can be found in contaminated food, water, or person-to-person contact.

The stomach flu is a disease that affects the digestive system. It is caused by a virus and usually lasts for 3–5 days.

  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Don’t skip meals, and eat healthy foods. Clean veggies and fruits well before eating. We wash those thoroughly with salt water.

Keep your distance from people with flu.

  • Use hand sanitizer or alcohol-based hand wipes when you’re out in public.
  • Do not share utensils like cups, spoons, and plates with each other.
  • Get lots of rest when you’re sick with stomach flu symptoms, which can help you feel better faster and recover more quickly than if you don’t get enough sleep or rest when you’re sick with stomach flu.

Over-the-Counter Medicines for Stomach Flu

  • Antiemetic medicines for nausea and vomiting: Metoclopramide, Domperidone
  • Antidiarrheal medications like loperamide (Imodium) will help if there is severe diarrhea.
  • Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), Gatorade, or Pedialyte may help to keep you energized.

When to Visit the Doctor

If you’ve been exposed to stomach flu, you’ll feel sick and may have a high fever.

You may also have symptoms of excessive vomiting, excessive diarrhea, severe headaches and muscle aches, and possibly a rash if you were exposed to an infected person.

If you’ve had symptoms for more than 24 hours, it’s time to see a doctor.

It’s not unusual for the flu to last longer than 24 hours, especially if you have other symptoms like fever, headache, and body aches. But if your symptoms are severe or don’t go away after three days, it’s time to take action!

Your doctor can help find out what kind of flu you have and offer treatment recommendations based on the most common strains of the virus that cause stomach flu.

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TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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