Remedies For Little Ones
As terrible as it is to get the stomach flu yourself, it is even harder to watch your child go through it. If your infants symptoms havent subsided in a day or two, take them to the doctor.
Their doctor can make sure your child is on their way to recovery without any complications. They can also check to make sure there are no other causes for their symptoms.
Encouraging children to continue to take sips of water to replace lost fluids is important to prevent dehydration. All infants and toddlers can also drink an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte.
When To Call A Doctor
Get medical help if youâre vomiting and canât keep any liquids down for longer than 24 hours, or you have diarrhea for more than a couple of days . Signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, dry mouth, deep yellow urine or little or no urine, and severe weakness. Other signs that you need medical help include severe pain in your gut or rectum, fever higher than 101 degrees F, stools with blood or pus or black color, or any nervous system problems, like issues with balance, coordination, or numbness.
How Long Is The Stomach Flu Contagious
Stomach flu is contagious when the organisms that cause stomach flu are spread to uninfected individuals. The timeframe or how long the infected person remains contagious depends on the infecting cause. For example, most common cause of stomach flu is Norovirus. It has an incubation period of about 12 – 48 hours, and can cause the person to be contagious during the incubation period and for as long as they shed virus . Norovirus symptoms usually last about one to two days and is sometimes termed the 24 hour stomach flu.
Other infectious agents such as other viral strains, bacteria, and other infectious agents have incubation periods and contagious periods unique to them. Because this is an introductory article about stomach flu, readers are recommended to check the incubation periods and contagious periods of whatever infectious agent is thought to be causing the problem .
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What Causes A Stomach Virus
Several things can cause a stomach virus:
- Norovirus: This is the main cause. This represents a family of viruses.
- Rotavirus: This is a viral infection. This is common in babies and young kids.
Viral stomach infections are contagious. It is easy to get and give a stomach virus. It is spread by contact with an infected person, surface, or object. Stomach viruses are likely to spread at places with a lot of people. This includes schools, daycares, nursing homes, airplanes, cruise ships, and hospitals. Stomach viruses are common in cold weather months.
Is It Best To Starve A Stomach Bug
Although the symptoms are similar, there are some ways totell the difference between the stomach flu and foodpoisoning.
What Is Avian Or Bird Flu
Bird flu, or avian influenza, is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. Bird flu epidemics have occurred worldwide.
Bird flu is a leading contender to be the next pandemic flu bug because it has caused an unprecedented epidemic in poultry and wild birds across Asia and Eastern Europe. Still, no one knows for sure whether this will cause the next human flu pandemic.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between Norovirus Or Another More Serious Issue That Requires Medical Attention
People should see their doctor if there’s blood in their vomit or in their stool. That is a more serious warning sign. Its also important to see your doctor if your symptoms last longer than one week or if you have a fever higher than 103 degrees. That’s a little bit more concerning and could suggest that something else might be going on. People who feel like they’re dehydrated or have so much abdominal pain that they can’t tolerate it definitely need to go see their doctor or go to the emergency room.
How To Cope With A Stomach Flu
This article was co-authored by Carlotta Butler, RN, MPH. Carlotta Butler is a Registered Nurse in Arizona. Carlotta is a member of the American Medical Writers Association. She received her Masters of Public Health from the Northern Illinois University in 2004 and her Masters in Nursing from the University of St. Francis in 2017.There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 17 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,462,493 times.
The stomach flu, medically known as Gastroenteritis, can leave you sick for several days at a time. Although most often not fatal, recovery can be very difficult if the illness is not treated appropriately. If you want to recuperate and recover as soon as you can, then you have to take steps to manage your symptoms, hydrate yourself, and get lots of rest.
For Young Children And Babies
For young children, using an oral rehydration solution can help avoid or treat dehydration. ORS beverages, such as Pedialyte and Enfalyte, are available without a prescription.
They can be administered slowly, over a period of three to four hours, a few teaspoons at a time. Try giving your child one to two teaspoons, every five minutes. Babies can also be given ORS liquids via a bottle.
If youre breastfeeding, continue to offer your breast to your baby unless theyre vomiting repeatedly. Formula-fed babies can be given formula if they arent dehydrated and are able to keep fluids down.
If your baby has been vomiting, regardless of whether theyre breastfed, bottle-fed, or formula-fed, they should be offered small amounts of ORS liquids via bottle, 15 to 20 minutes after vomiting.
Dont give babies or children anti-diarrheal medication unless their doctor recommends it. These medications may make it harder for them to eliminate the virus from their systems.
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What Causes Food Poisoning
Food poisoning develops when infectious organisms such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites contaminate foods. Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella are among the top five germs that cause food poisoning in the United States. Norovirus is also within the same top-five list according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
You may get food poisoning from eating contaminated or undercooked meat. However, affected meat isnt the only food that causes food poisoning. The following foods can also lead to foodborne illness:
- raw and undercooked eggs
- unpasteurized beverages, such as milk, cider, and juice
- undercooked rice
Babies may have sunken eyes or fontanels when they become dehydrated. A fontanel is also known as the soft spot on a babys head. You should seek medical attention if any of these symptoms occur.
Signs And Symptoms Of Gastroenteritis
The signs and symptoms of gastroenteritis may include:
- Watery diarrhea
- Increased thirst
In infants, you may look for signs of fewer and drier diapers. Thirst and a dry mouth and skin can also be common indications of stomach flu in infants. If you doubt that you or your little one has gastroenteritis, waste no time in seeing a doctor immediately.
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How To Prevent The Stomach Flu
Once you have the stomach flu, theres little you can do but suffer through it, making sure you drink lots of fluids so you dont get dehydrated .
Its contagious, happens quickly, and theres no good treatment, says Dr. Creech. Thats really our challenge. Our job is to keep people hydrated and just carry them through.
There is a vaccine that can be given to babies to protect against rotavirus. But for everyone else, its all about washing your hands , whether or not you know there are sick people around. Soap and warm water are best, but alcohol-based sanitizers will do if you dont have access to a sink.
Hygiene is always at the top of the listwashing your hands after using the restroom, before you prepare food, says Dr. Creech. Steer clear of anyone who is sick, and stay home if you yourself have the stomach flu. Disinfect countertops and other hard surfaces and wash linens well if you or someone else at home gets sick.
Pregnant women, older adults, small children, and anyone with a compromised immune system are vulnerable to more severe bouts of stomach flu. See a doctor if viral gastroenteritis lasts more than three days or if you cant keep liquids down for 24 hours.
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How Is The Stomach Flu Spread
Most viral and bacterial causes of the stomach flu can be transfer to other people by direct and indirect contact, usually by the fecal-oral route.
- Direct contact could involve an infant’s hand touching feces-contaminated surfaces and then touching a sibling or relative indirect contact would be like touching a door knob or railing on a cruise ship or in a dorm that is contaminated and the person touches the contaminated surface and transfers the agent by touching their mouth.
- Another common way to get stomach flu is drinking or eating contaminated foods and liquids.
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Are The Stomach Flu And Food Poisoning The Same Condition
- Stomach flu or gastroenteritis means any nonspecific inflammatory problem in the gastrointestinal tract some doctors consider the stomach flu to be more narrowly defined as a viral infection that attacks the digestive system.
- Food poisoning specifically is caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or fluid that contains bacteria, viruses, parasites and/or their toxins they produce.
Consequently, there is some crossover between the two terms.
- Food poisoning usually is found in small outbreaks that occur among individuals that have ingested the same foods or drink, and symptoms occur rapidly within hours whereas the stomach flu has a more gradual onset of symptoms and usually lasts longer than food poisoning.
- Stomach flu is highly contagious and can be spread quickly to other individuals whereas food poisoning usually requires ingesting the poison and does not easily spread to other individuals.
Trusted Gastroenteritis Treatment In The Bay Area
Most cases of stomach flu go away with home care measures within a couple of days. Gradually reintroduce food by starting with foods that are easy to digest. Examples include bananas, potatoes, rice, toast, and crackers. Severe cases of stomach flu may require treatment in a Dignity Health hospital. Stomach flu treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing dehydration. This means replacing electrolytes and drinking plenty of fluids. Sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of liquid can help when vomiting or nausea prevents drinking large amounts. Broths, rehydration solutions, and sports drinks are good choices. Avoid caffeinated drinks. Adults can use over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicines, but children should not. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, so they are not used in the treatment of stomach flu. The best way to prevent stomach flu is to wash your hands regularly, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. Talk to your Dignity Health doctor about ways to stay healthy and avoid the stomach flu. Dignity Health provides high-quality emergency care for stomach flu in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.
Causes Of The Stomach Flu
The stomach flu is usually caused by any number of different viruses that can attack your gastrointestinal system. Its not caused by the influenza virus, which gives you the seasonal flu.
Less often, bacteria can cause it, typically due to contaminated water or food that was prepared inadequately or in an unhygienic environment.
What Causes The Stomach Flu
Bacteria and viruses — infectious agents — are the most frequent causes of gastroenteritis in the U.S. and worldwide. Infections cause diarrhea and other symptoms by causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tissue. The infections increase the fluid content in the intestines and colon by changing the gastrointestinal tract’s ability to absorb water and by increasing the speed of transit for things you ingest. This, in turn, causes diarrhea. Infectious agents may physically damage intestinal cells directly or indirectly with secreted toxins.
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What Should You Do If You Have Stomach Flu Or Covid
Given how widespread and highly contagious COVID-19 is, Dr. Adalja says its a good idea to assume you may have a case of coronavirus and act accordingly. Isolate at home, call your doctor to ask about getting tested, and wear a face mask if you need to come into contact with others .
Like COVID-19, there is no specific treatment for norovirus. Since both the stomach flu and gastrointestinal symptoms of COVID-19 can lead to dehydration due to diarrhea, its important to drink plenty of liquids until you start to feel better. Get plenty of rest, use fever-reducing medication like Tylenol if needed, and call your doctor ASAP if your symptoms start to get worse.
When you start to feel better, Dr. Adalja says its a good idea to continue with bland foods and ease back into your normal diet slowlyotherwise you could risk upsetting your stomach again.
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When It’s Time To Call A Doctor
Some symptoms of gastroenteritis are bad enough that you should seek medical attention if you develop them. These include:
- Persistent vomiting/inability to keep down liquids for more than 24 hours
- Persistent diarrhea for 24 hours for children or a couple of days for adults
- Fever 101 degrees F or higher
- Blood in stool, black stool, pus in stool
- Nervous system issues including loss of balance or coordination/numbness
- Severe GI or rectal pain
- CDC: “About Parasites,” “Parasites,” “Travelers’ Diarrhea.”
- CDC Yellow Book: Travelers Diarrhea.
- KidsHealth.org: Dehydration.
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Can You Prevent From Getting The Stomach Flu
There is no diet that will prevent gastroenteritis but food preparation plays a strong role in preventing gastroenteritis. In general, there are some actions people can do to prevent or reduce the chance of getting gastroenteritis, including:
- Hand washing, especially before eating and after any close association with an infected person or items they have touched
- Launder items daily that infected persons wear
- Avoid direct contact with infected individuals when possible
- Do not eat undercooked foods, especially meats
- Do not eat raw foods or drink untreated water
- Do not drink untreated or unpasteurized fluids, especially milk
- Thoroughly wash any produce, especially in third world countries, before eating
- While traveling, avoid all raw foods and ice drink only from sealed bottled products and use bottled water for tooth brushing
There is a vaccine available against rotavirus that has reduced this infection in children. Also, there is a vaccine available against cholera-causing bacteria , but it is not widely available. A clinical trial of a Norovirus vaccine was done with some success. It is likely in the near future commercial vaccines against some causes will be available.
Norovirus Spreads Very Easily And Quickly In Different Ways
You can get norovirus by accidentally getting tiny particles of feces or vomit from an infected person in your mouth.
This can happen if you
- eat food or drink liquids that are contaminated with norovirus,
- touch surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then put your fingers in your mouth, or
- have direct contact with someone who is infected with norovirus, such as by caring for them or sharing food or eating utensils with them.
If you get norovirus illness, you can shed billions of norovirus particles that you cant see without a microscope. Only a few norovirus particles can make other people sick. You are most contagious
- when you have symptoms of norovirus illness, especially vomiting, and
- during the first few days after you recover from norovirus illness.
However, studies have shown that you can still spread norovirus for two weeks or more after you feel better.
Norovirus can easily contaminate food and water because it only takes a very small amount of virus particles to make you sick. Food and water can get contaminated with norovirus in many ways, including when:
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What Not To Eat
Generally, avoid dairy, fibrous foods, and anything fatty or spicy.
- Dairy: Not everyone has a problem with milk when they have the stomach flu, but it could be hard to digest and can aggravate gas and diarrhea.
- Fiber: You dont need the extra fiber if your bowels are loose.
- Grease: Avoid greasy and salty foods like bacon.
- Spices: Stay away from tomato-based dishes, curries, and chili sauces.
Acupressure has been shown to be effective in treating some types of nausea. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center suggests finding pressure point P-6 by measuring the width of three fingers down from the bottom of your palm.
Press below that width with your thumb and youll feel a sensitive spot between two tendons. Gently massage with your thumb for two or three minutes.
Sea-Bands are a product worn on the wrists. These can be useful in treating nausea if the P-6 acupressure point gives you relief.