Symptoms Of Stomach Flu
The usual symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, include:
Nausea and vomiting
Often lack of appetite or nausea is the first sign of stomach flu, with vomiting usually following soon after and diarrhea after that. Vomiting typically stops before diarrhea, and you may recover your appetite quickly.
Cramping and diarrhea
Stomach cramps and audible noises from the intestine often precede watery diarrhea. Severe diarrhea is when you have over ten bowel movements in one day. Generally, viral gastroenteritis doesn’t cause pus or blood in the stool.
You may have a fever with the stomach flu, but it rarely goes high. You may also have achy muscles and feel generally weak and exhausted.
How Serious Is Norovirus Disease
Norovirus disease is usually not serious, although people may feel very sick and vomit many times a day. Most people get better within one or two days, and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness. However, sometimes people are unable to drink enough liquids to replace the liquids they lost because of vomiting and diarrhea. Those people can become dehydrated and might need special medical attention. This problem with dehydration is usually only seen among the very young, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.
Children And Vaccination For Rotavirus
Rotavirus is a virus that causes severe gastroenteritis in babies and young children. All young children should receive the rotavirus vaccine at 6 weeks and 4 months of age. A third dose at 6 months may be needed depending on the brand of vaccine used.
This vaccine is effective in preventing the rotavirus infection in about 7 out of every 10 children vaccinated. It is also effective in preventing severe gastroenteritis in about 9 out of every 10 infants vaccinated. The vaccine provides protection for up to 5 years.
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How To Get Rid Of The Stomach Flu: 7 Home Remedies That Can Help
Getting rid of a stomach virus can actually be as simple as waiting 24 to 28 hours for symptoms to subside. If youre looking to feel better faster and recover well from the stomach flu, there are some natural remedies that you can easily do at home that have been known to help boost the recovery process.
Do you know what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about how to get rid of stomach flu caused by the norovirus? According to the CDC:
There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral infection. If you have norovirus illness, you should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.
When you have the stomach flu, youre most likely dealing with diarrhea and/or vomiting. Both of these symptoms mean a lot of water loss for your body and the chance of dehydration which only makes you feel that much worse. To avoid becoming dehydrated from the stomach flu, its really important that you consume a lot of clear liquids like water, coconut water and herbal tea.
2. What To Eat
3. What Not to Eat
You want to know how to get rid of the stomach flu fast? Well, what you dont put into your body can be just as important or helpful as what you do put into your body! If you have the stomach flu, there are certain foods and drinks youll want to avoid until youre feeling better.
How Long Does The Stomach Flu Last Compared To Food Poisoning
Thankfully, both illnesses are typically short-lived as long as you dont develop any complications . Most cases of the stomach flu last for less than a week and many people get better on their own without medical intervention, according to the NIDDK. As for food poisoning, you can expect a mild case to last a few hours to several days as well.
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How Are Food Poisoning And Stomach Flu Treated
Basic treatment for food poisoning and the stomach flu is the same, but if you have a severe case of either, you might need to see a doctor. For both, the most important thing is to keep yourself hydrated, Dr. Adalja says, as the vomiting, diarrhea, and inability to eat or drink much can zap much-needed liquids from your body.
While water is great, an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte, fruit juice, or broth can help replace nutrients and electrolytes youve lost, if you can handle it. Just do your besteven doctors admit that its hard to stay hydrated when youre feeling that crappy, Dr. Gorwana says.
Its also smart to take it easy on the food front. Be gentle to your stomach, Dr. Calello says. Eat bland foodnothing fried, sweet, or spicy. Once you can tolerate clear liquids and bland food, you can start to add more flavors back into your diet.
You should also check in with your doctor before you self-treat with over-the-counter drugs. OTC diarrhea medications can be helpful, but can also prolong food poisoning cases, Dr. Calello says, so its important to only take them when needed.
Again, these illnesses typically pass with a lot of suffering but minimal complications. However, there are some signs that you need medical attention, according to the Mayo Clinic:
How Is It Spread
Noroviruses are very contagious. They are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. From there, noroviruses are transferred to food, water, or surfaces by the hands of infected people who have not washed adequately after using the bathroom.
People become infected with norovirus by:
- Eating food or drinking liquids contaminated by an infected person.
- Eating uncooked shellfish that has been harvested from contaminated waters.
- Touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching their mouth or eating without washing their hands first.
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What Should I Do If I Think I Have A Stomach Bug
While viral gastroenteritis is self-limiting and typically clears up within a week at most, there are certain members of the population who are at risk of complications from dehydrationparticularly children and the elderly. If you or a family member suspect symptoms are due to a bout of gastroenteritis, visit to ConvenientMD can help you get on the road to recovery, and put your mind at ease. Our providers will evaluate your symptoms to determine the root cause and recommend an effective treatment plan, which may include IV fluids for those who are significantly dehydrated.
If your digestive system has been feeling off, you may be suffering from gastroenteritis. Stop into any ConvenientMD location in New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts for an evaluation.
Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning: Is It Possible To Tell Symptoms Apart
When youre suffering through a wicked case of diarrhea, sudden vomiting, or the delightful sensation of both at the same time, it can be difficult to tell if your symptoms might be the result of the stomach flu or food poisoning.
While the stomach flu and food poisoning tend to be lumped together into one unpleasant category, there are actually many differences between the two. Still, its understandable to get confused, as they can both make your life hell for 48-ish hours.
Food poisoning and a stomach virus are nearly impossible to tell apart, Diane Calello, M.D., medical and executive director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System and associate professor of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells SELF. Sometimes, the only way to know is if you can identify a food only eaten by people who get sick.
With that in mind, heres a comprehensive breakdown of stomach flu vs. food poisoning symptoms, the distinct causes of each, the factors that may help you determine which one is behind your sudden misery, and how to feel better ASAP.
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Is The Stomach Flu Worse In Some People
In general, most people recover quickly from the stomach flu. Symptoms can be worse in babies, young children, older adults or anyone of any age that is immune-compromised. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration within just a short period of time, depending on the circumstances. Signs of dehydration include:
- Extreme thirst.
- General weakness.
How Does Viral Gastroenteritis Spread
Viral gastroenteritis spreads from person to person through contact with an infected persons stool or vomit.
If you have viral gastroenteritis, viruses will be present in your stool and vomit. You may spread the virus in small bits of stool or vomit, especially if you dont wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and
- touch surfaces or objects used by other people
- prepare or serve foods and drinks for other people
- shake hands with or touch another person
Infected people who do not have symptoms can still spread viruses. For example, norovirus may be found in your stool before you have symptoms and up to 2 weeks after you recover.2
Norovirus is especially contagious, meaning that it spreads easily from person to person. Norovirus can live for months on surfaces such as countertops and changing tables. When an infected person vomits, the virus may become airborne and land on surfaces or on another person.
Viral gastroenteritis may spread in households, day care centers and schools, nursing homes, cruise ships, restaurants, and other places where people gather in groups.
If water comes into contact with stools of infected people, the water may become contaminated with a virus. The contaminated water can spread the virus to foods or drinks, and people who consume these foods or drinks may become infected. People who swim in contaminated water may also become infected.
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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.
Know When To See A Healthcare Provider
Most people with vomiting and diarrhea don’t need to see a healthcare provider. But it’s important to know when you do.
See your healthcare provider or seek medical attention if you have any these symptoms:
- Vomiting longer than 24 hours
- Blood in your vomit
- Vomiting with severe headache and stiff neck
- Signs of dehydrationdark or infrequent urine, dry mouth
Although most people recover from stomach bugs without medical treatment, sometimes these symptoms are caused by more serious problems that do require medical intervention.
Some people may become dehydrated from vomiting and having diarrhea. Some cases of dehydration need to be treated with medications or IV fluidseven if the cause is a simple stomach virus.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
- cant drink for several hours
- is peeing less often
- has signs of dehydration, such as crying with few or no tears, having a dry mouth or cracked lips, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, acting very sleepy or less alert
- has a high fever
- has blood in their poop or vomit
- is vomiting for more than 24 hours or the diarrhea doesnt get better after several days
When Is The Stomach Flu Contagious
Unfortunately, the different viruses responsible for stomach flu can be contagious before you even know youor someone elseis sick.
Norovirus symptoms usually start 12 to 48 hours after coming into contact with the virus and last one to three days. But the virus can be detectable in your poop not only before you have symptoms but up to two weeks after you recover. You can get better after 24 hours but still have the virus for several days, says Dr. Creech.
Norovirus can also survive for weeks on hard surfaces like countertops.
Rotaviruses cause stomach flu symptoms within about two days, adenoviruses within about three to 10 days, and astroviruses within five days. All of these may last longer than illnesses attributed to norovirus.
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How To Prevent Stomach Viruses
When it comes to stomach viruses, it pays to be mindful of those who have a stomach bug. Make sure to wash your hands and refrain from touching your eyes, ears, and nose after coming into contact with an infected person.
Also, with viruses, such as Clostridium perfringens and Campylobacter, making sure to thoroughly cook meat and poultry fully can help reduce the chance of viral infections.
When To Call Your Doctor
Food poisoning and viral gastroenteritis can become severe enough to require medical attention. However, Dr. Thomas says, in most cases, people can effectively manage either condition with proper rest, hydration and at-home medical treatment. But call your doctor if youre unsure whats causing your symptoms or if youre having high or persistent fevers.
Also keep in mind that other health issues can mimic the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis or food poisoning. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or if you experience any of the following:
- Bloody stool or bloody vomit
- Inability to keep any fluids down
- Diarrhea lasting more than three days
- Fever above 104 degrees
- Severe abdominal pain
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Home Remedies For Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
But UTIs also cause other problems, like a burning sensation when urinating, frequent urination, and urine thats cloudy, dark, smelly, or bloody.
A UTI can be successfully treated with antibiotics, so its important to see a doctor and get a correct diagnosis.
Some research has suggested a link between UTIs and gastroenteritis in kids. In one study, 35 percent of pediatric UTI patients also had gastroenteritis.
How Common Are They
Infections like food poisoning and the stomach flu are common. Each year in the United States, its estimated that 48 million people get food poisoning, and up to 21 million people get the stomach flu caused by norovirus. While many people quickly recover from these seemingly harmless illnesses, they cause thousands of ER visits and hospitalizations per year in the United States combined.
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What Can I Eat With The Stomach Flu
You can eat normally with the stomach flu, which includes formula and breastmilk for babies. You may find that you tolerate a bland diet better while sick with the stomach flu. Some people have worse diarrhea if they consume caffeine, sugary drinks, spicy foods, dairy products, or alcohol. The important thing is to stay hydrated by drinking water, broth, and non-sugary drinks.
How To Tell Food Poisoning And Covid
Symptoms alone are only suggestive, and they cannot prove that a person does or does not have COVID-19.
The most effective way to distinguish food poisoning from COVID-19 is to take a test for SARS-CoV-2. However, even these tests are not perfect. To get the most reliable results, a person should consider retesting a few days after a negative test.
A person can also determine whether they have COVID-19 by considering several factors, including:
- If everyone in the household recently ate the same food and feels sick, food poisoning might be the culprit.
- If several recent contacts develop symptoms, they and the person may have COVID-19.
- If a person only has GI symptoms, COVID-19 is less likely, though still possible.
A person can also evaluate the symptoms:
- Fever: Although food poisoning can also cause it, a fever is often the first symptom of COVID-19.
- Cough and respiratory issues: Food poisoning does not cause breathing problems or coughing. However, it can cause fatigue and chills.
- Neurological symptoms: COVID-19
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How Is It Treated
The most important thing to do is to rest the stomach and intestine. You can do this by not eating solid food for a while and drinking only clear liquids. As your symptoms go away, you can start eating soft bland foods that are easy to digest.
If you have been vomiting a lot, it is best to have only small, frequent sips of liquids. Drinking too much at once, even an ounce or two, may cause more vomiting.
Your choice of liquids is important. If water is the only liquid you can drink without vomiting, that is OK. However, if you have been vomiting often or for a long time, you must replace the minerals, sodium and potassium, that are lost when you vomit. Ask your healthcare provider what sport drinks or other rehydration drinks could help you replace these minerals.
Other clear liquids you can drink are weak tea and apple juice. You may also drink soft drinks without caffeine after letting them go flat . It may be easier to keep down liquids that are cold. Avoid liquids that are acidic or caffeinated or have a lot of carbonation. Do not drink milk until you no longer have diarrhea.
Sometimes treatment includes prescription medicine to prevent nausea and vomiting or diarrhea.
Nonprescription medicine is available for the treatment of diarrhea and can be very effective. If you use it, make sure you use only the dose recommended on the package. If you have chronic health problems, always check with your healthcare provider before you use any medicine for diarrhea.