How To Get Rid Of The Stomach Flu: 7 Home Remedies
Youre vomiting. You cant stop going to the bathroom. Youre exhausted and all this terribleness just seems to have come out of nowhere. Could it be the stomach flu? If it is, you probably want to know how to get rid of the stomach flu fast!
If you have the stomach flu, it likely may have been caused by norovirus, which is especially known for infecting people in the colder months of the year. This winter vomiting bug, or stomach flu, is known by doctors for being a family affair. In other words, if one person in the family gets it, most likely every family member in the household will get it because its that contagious!
How do you get rid of the stomach flu? Thankfully, many people with the stomach flu feel better within 24 hours. And luckily there are a lot of great natural ways to boost your recovery from a nasty case of stomach flu.
Everything You Need To Know About The Stomach Flu
Fun fact: the Stomach Flu isnt actually related to the flu virus at all.
The only commonality is that stomach bugs and the flu are both viruses. The stomach flu lasts anywhere from 1-10 days, depending on your immune system and the individual strain of the virus.
Unlike food poisoning, stomach bugs are usually not contracted via contaminated foods. You catch a stomach virus like you catch the flu by coming into contact with someone who is infected.
If youre aware someone has the stomach flu, youll want to take extra precaution to wash your hands after touching something an infected person has touched.
Try to refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, as this is the easiest way to pass the virus on from the infected person to yourself.
Technically, you can catch a stomach virus through eating contaminated food and raw meats or drinking non-potable water. When this happens, its a similar effect to putting your hand in your mouth after touching an infected person.
Make sure to avoid sharing food and drinks with someone who has a stomach bug.
In The United States Viral Gastroenteritis Is The Second Most Common Illness In Most Cases Its Caused By Norovirus Why Is This Infection So Prevalent
Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis because anyone can be affected children and adults. Its also very easy for infected people to spread the virus to others. People can shed billions of particles of the virus, and it really only takes an extremely small amount as few as 18 viral particles to make another person sick.
How Can Stomach Flu Be Prevented
Since stomach flu can be caused by multiple factors, getting the flu vaccination alone isnt enough to protect you from gastroenteritis. Children should follow the standard vaccination schedule and get the rotavirus vaccination when indicated. This vaccination can protect your child from getting sick from the rotovirus but not all children can receive this oral vaccination, so please check with your pediatrician before doing so.
You can take other steps to reduce your risk of getting stomach flu:
Practice good handwashing
When youre sick, the virus spreads from anything that comes in contact with virus-infected feces. Good handwashing is vital in stopping the spread. Viruses left on hands can easily spread to surfaces, food and people you touch. Its important to wash your hands well after you go to the bathroom, change a diaper, touch any bathroom surfaces and before you handle food.
Be careful with food
You can catch stomach flu from contaminated food or water, or pass it on to someone else. To keep viruses out of your food:
Clean sick areas
Clean anything that you may have touched while you were sick with stomach flu. Wash laundry with hot water and dry with high heat. Be sure to use a disinfectant to clean areas where a sick person vomited or had diarrhea.
What To Do If You Have Norovirus
If you experience sudden diarrhoea and/or vomiting, the best thing to do is to stay at home until you’re feeling better.
There’s no treatment for norovirus, so you have to let it run its course.
You don’t usually need to get medical advice unless there’s a risk of a more serious problem.
To help ease your own or your childs symptoms drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
You need to drink more than usual to replace the fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea as well as water, adults could also try fruit juice and soup.
Avoid giving fizzy drinks or fruit juice to children as it can make their diarrhoea worse. Babies should continue to feed as usual, either with breast milk or other milk feeds.
You can also:
What Usually Causes A Stomach Virus
A variety of viruses cause stomach flu, and it is often caused by contact with an infected person or by consuming contaminated food or water. It is less common for bacteria to cause stomach flu. It is extremely unpleasant for people to have stomach flu, but most recover within a few days without any further complications.
How Do You Catch A Cold Or The Flu
At the first sign of a cold or flu, you may wonder how it happened — especially if you’ve taken steps to avoid germs. Here’s exactly how you get sick, and what you need to know to protect yourself next time.
- Viruses spread through tiny droplets in the air that are released when a sick person sneezes, coughs, or blows their nose.
- You can get sick if you touch your nose, eyes, or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by the virus, such as a toy, countertop, or doorknob. Viruses can live on those objects for up to 2 days.
- If you come in contact with cold or flu germs, your chance of getting sick isnât 100%. It depends on when the other person was infected, and how many viral particles are contained in the droplets.
- People are most contagious during the first 2 to 3 days of a cold. A cold is most often not contagious after the first week.
- People who have the flu may pass it on to others 1 day before symptoms start and up to 5 to 7 days after getting sick, so they may spread the flu before they even know they are sick.
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What Are Your Tips For How To Avoid A Stomach Virus After Being Exposed
Disclaimer: Although I am passionate about nutrition, natural living and alternative health issues, I am not a certified nutritionist, medical doctor, or practitioner of any kind. I am not licensed to counsel anyone in medical matters nor may I be held responsible for any course of action that you choose in regards to your own health or that of your family. Please remember that what I are sharing is the result of my own experiences, but may not necessarily be the right course of action for you. I am an advocate of becoming informed, knowledgeable and responsible for ones own health, but my desire is not to be an authority on any matters of health for you, nor would I presume to have sufficient knowledge to do so. My hope is that what I share may encourage you and start you on the road to doing your own research, and seeking out the opinions of professionals or others that you trust.
What Every Parent Needs To Know About The Stomach Bug
In workplaces, classrooms, daycare centers and on public transportation, the germs that cause the stomach bug can spread quickly, especially during the winter months. While we cant avoid these places, we can do our best to prevent the spread of germs and, in the event that you or child does get sick, treat the illness at home.
Dr. Colleen Monaghan, Medical Director at Brigham and Womens Family Care Associates at Brigham at Womens Faulkner Hospital says, The stomach bug or stomach flu is used to describe an illness that most commonly includes vomiting and diarrhea. Medically, this is referred to as gastroenteritis.
The most common cause of gastroenteritis is one of several viruses. These germs spread from person to person, sometimes through objects such as telephones, door handles and anything else that multiple hands touch. One particular virus that we hear about in the news is Norovirus. Norovirus is often responsible for outbreaks in school classrooms or workplaces since it is very contagious and can be especially severe with symptoms lasting for three days or more, says Dr. Neelam Shah, resident at Brigham and Womens Family Care Associates. Symptoms of gastroenteritis can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, fever, tiredness and just not feeling well.
Dr. Shah explains the things every parent needs to know about gastroenteritis:
2. Treatment at home
3. When to call your doctor
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Ut University Health Services
- loss of appetite
- muscle aches
The illness may develop over a period of hours, or it may suddenly start with stomach cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Some bacteria, parasites, medicines, or other medical conditions can cause similar symptoms. If your symptoms are unusually severe or last longer than a few days, your healthcare provider can determine if the diarrhea is caused by something other than a virus.
What Causes Stomach Flu
In most cases stomach flu symptoms are caused by a virus. This is why you may hear some people refer to stomach virus symptoms.
There are a few different viruses which could be to blame but the commonest culprits are:
- Norovirus – This is also known as the winter vomiting bug as it is more common in winter. This appears to come on suddenly and is known for its violent and projectile vomiting.
- Astrovirus – tends to be milder than the other viruses
- Rotavirus – mostly seen in babies and the under fives
- Adenovirus – common in young children
The only way to tell exactly which virus is causing your stomach flu symptoms is to send a stool sample to the lab for testing. Quick stool tests are available for Norovirus and Rotavirus but the other viruses take longer to test for.
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After Having Stomach Flu Once Can I Catch It Again
That depends on which virus you have been infected with as many different viruses can cause gastric flu symptoms.
Norovirus tends to infect people about 5 times in their lifetime. You will have a temporary immunity after an infection but this only lasts for a matter of weeks or months. Some lucky people have a genetic make up which seems to protect them from norovirus however.
After a rotavirus infection about 38% of children will have natural immunity against being reinfected but those who do become infected again will have a much milder illness. With each subsequent infection more and more children develop immunity and this is why most adults do not catch rotavirus.
There are 50 different types of adenovirus so although you may develop immunity to one or more of the viruses it is not likely that you would be immune to all of them.
A study in Oxford in England found that 75% of 10 year olds had astrovirus antibodies. This means that adults are much less likely to have stomach flu symptoms caused by this virus.
If Norovirus Is So Common And Contagious Is There Anything People Can Do To Help Reduce Their Risk For Infection
The best way to protect against norovirus is to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure that you rinse off all fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat them. If you’re at all concerned about norovirus infection, make sure you’re also cooking these foods thoroughly. Make sure all shellfish you eat are cooked as well because they can also transmit the virus due to how they’re harvested and grown. Anyone with a norovirus infection should also not prepare food for others until at least 48 hours after their symptoms resolve.
If someone in your household is sick, make sure this person isnt in close contact with others and isnt sharing plates, cups or utensils. You should also clean bathroom and kitchen countertops as well as other commonly touched objects, such as doorknobs and light switches, with a bleach-based household cleaner, or other disinfectant thats approved by the EPA for use against norovirus. The virus can remain on surfaces for up to two weeks.
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Caring For A Child With The Stomach Bug
Thankfully, most norovirus infections only last about a day or two . Plus, the primary treatment for a child with a GI virus focuses on rehydration, which you can do at home.
While kids are sick, its important to:
- Keep them hydrated. An infant can continue to breastfeed or drink formula. An older child can drink clear liquids as well as an over-the-counter oral rehydration fluid to replace key electrolytes.
- Make sure theyre urinating. Babies should continue having close to the usual number of wet diapers. If that number drops in the space of a few hours, this is the earliest sign of dehydration.
- Watch for behavior clues that indicate dehydration. A baby or older child who seems more drowsy than usual may be suffering the early signs of dehydration unusual sleepiness is a later sign.
Wondering when its time to take your child in for care? Or whether your child has something other than a stomach virus? Dr. Sammons says to call your pediatrician if:
- Diarrhea or vomiting continues to get worse.
- Your child also has a fever that lasts more than three days.
- Your child has not urinated at least once during every eight- to 12-hour period.
- Your child’s lips and mouth look dry.
- Your child has no tears when crying.
- You see blood in your child’s stool.
- Your child has severe abdominal pain.
- Your child is very sleepy all the time.
- You have any concerns.
Wash Your Hands Carefully With Soap And Water
- Especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating, preparing, or handling food.
- Norovirus can be found in your vomit or stool even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for 2 weeks or more after you feel better. It is important to continue washing your hands often during this time.
- Alcohol-based hand gels can be used in addition to hand washing. But, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.
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Is The Stomach Flu Contagious
Yes, extremely. It spreads via the fecal-oral route , which basically means viruses from infected feces or vomit find their way into our mouths. The CDC says people with norovirus illness can shed billions of norovirus particles, and you only need a few of them to get sick. Very diligent hand washing is your best defense, according to Dr. Rogg.
Wash carefully if you’re changing diapers or cleaning up after a sick child, and grown-ups in the household should clean up after themselves if they can, advises Ryan Madanick, MD, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
What Kinds Of Viruses Cause Viral Gastroenteritis
Many different viruses can cause viral gastroenteritis. The most common causes of viral gastroenteritis include
- norovirus. Norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis. Symptoms usually begin 12 to 48 hours after you come into contact with the virus and last 1 to 3 days.2
- rotavirus. Symptoms usually begin about 2 days after you come into contact with the virus and last for 3 to 8 days.3Vaccines can prevent rotavirus infection.
- adenovirus. Symptoms typically begin 3 to 10 days after you come into contact with the virus and last 1 to 2 weeks.4
- astrovirus. Symptoms typically begin 4 to 5 days after you come into contact with the virus and last 1 to 4 days.5,6
Norovirus causes infections in people of all ages. Rotavirus, adenovirus, and astrovirus most often infect infants and young children, but they can also infect adults.
Viruses may cause viral gastroenteritis any time of the year. In the United States, norovirus, rotavirus, and astrovirus are more likely to cause infections in the winter.
How Long Does Norovirus Last
Both stomach flu and other types of food poisoning are what doctors call “self-limiting,” meaning they play themselves out and rarely require medical treatment.
While norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness, other bugs like salmonella are more likely to result in hospitalization.
If you’ve got viral gastroenteritis, you should start to feel better after two or three days. While food poisoning due to other causes hits you harder and faster, it goes away faster too you may be back to normal in a day or two.
Absolutely. It stands to reason that if you’re losing lots of fluid through watery diarrhea and vomiting, you need to replace that fluid. But remember that you’re also losing sodium, potassium, and other minerals , and they need to be replaced, too.
You should drink Pedialyte, or similar oral electrolyte solutions that contain salts and sugar as well as water, if you have severe diarrhea. Sports drinks aren’t a great choice, because the mix of salts and sugars they contain isn’t exactly right in terms of replacing fluid lost to diarrhea and vomiting.
If you think you, your child, or someone you are looking after is severely dehydrated, get straight on the phone to the doctor.