The stomach flu or gastroenteritis involves infection and inflammation of the stomach and the intestines. A bacterium, virus or parasite can cause this digestive condition. Nevertheless, bacterial and viral gastroenteritis are more frequent. The highly notorious stomach flu viruses include the rotavirus and the norovirus while E. coli, campylobacter and salmonella often trigger the bacterial stomach flu.
Always bear in mind that the stomach flu is not linked to influenza. It has no connection with the respiratory system. The stomach flu simply affects the stomach and intestines.
Since the stomach flu mainly affects the stomach and the intestines, it can trigger the following symptoms.
- Diarrhea with blood in the stool in some cases
- Abdominal cramping
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle and joint pain
- Appetite loss
Contagious nature of stomach flu
The stomach flu is highly transmittable. The condition rapidly spreads via contaminated water or food. In most cases, the main culprit is poor hygiene of food handlers and being exposed to infected individuals.
Increased intake of fluids
Replacing the lost fluids is the main priority if an individual has stomach flu due to the persistent loss of fluids from diarrhea and vomiting. Broth, water or any clear liquid is recommended to restore the fluids in the body.
If the individual could not tolerate ingesting large amounts of fluids, he/she can take frequent sips of water or suck on ice chips on regular intervals. The doctor might even recommend oral rehydration solutions that are available over-the-counter.
The loss of excess fluid and appetite loss can make the individual weak and tired. This is why getting enough rest is vital. By getting enough rest, it allows the body to fight off the stomach flu and repair the cellular damage caused by the bacteria.
The BRAT diet (banana, rice, applesauce, toast) is recommended for those who have diarrhea and an upset stomach since it will not irritate the stomach. This diet has a low-fiber content that helps firm up the stools.
This diet is comprised of foods that are readily digestible and packed with carbohydrates for energy. Bananas are rich in potassium which is an electrolyte that is severely depleted along with fluids due to persistent diarrhea and vomiting.
The home medications for the stomach flu are focused on symptomatic relief especially if the causative agent is a virus or rotavirus or norovirus. There are over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen for fever, ibuprofen for body aches and loperamide for diarrhea. Nevertheless, it is best to consult a doctor before using any over-the-counter medications to ensure proper and safe dosage.
If the cause is a bacterium, the doctor might prescribe an antibiotic. Additionally, medications that relieves vomiting and nausea might be prescribed as well.