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How Do I Get Rid of the Stomach Flu?

Reviewed on 9/9/2020

How do I get rid of the stomach flu?

Manage stomach flu at home with self-care strategies unless you experience severe symptoms.
Manage stomach flu at home with self-care strategies unless you experience severe symptoms.

The medical treatment for stomach flu is based on maintaining adequate hydration and body sodium-potassium levels. The treatment for stomach flu initially consists of self-care measures such as

  • You should drink plenty of liquids, clear broths, soups or noncaffeinated drinks taking small frequent sips.
  • Gradually, you should begin to eat bland, easy-to-digest foods like bananas, rice and chicken.
  • You should avoid certain foods and substances until you feel better like dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, fatty or spicy food.
  • You should get plenty of rest because the illness can cause weakness.
  • Painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can make your stomach more upset; therefore, you should be cautious about the medication. You will get mild anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen from your doctor.
  • You should avoid antibiotics because they fight bacteria not viruses. Antibiotic overuse can encourage the development of an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria.
  • Dehydration in stomach flu can lead to serious problems. In severe dehydration, you may require hospitalization and your doctor may inject fluids through your veins.

When should you see the doctor if you have stomach flu?

See a gastroenterologist/doctor if you are adult and if you are

Not able to keep liquids down for 24 hours.

See a pediatrician if your baby or child has

  • Fever ≥102°F (38.9°C)
  • Lethargy or is very irritable
  • A lot of discomfort or pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Dehydration marked by
    • Vomiting for unknown reasons lasting more than several hours
    • Bloody stools or severe diarrhea
    • Fontanelle (sunken soft spot) on the top of the front of their head
    • Dry mouth or crying without tears
    • Unusually sleepy, drowsy, fussy or unresponsive behavior
    • Drinking a lot of water but urinating less (wet diaper in six hours)

QUESTION

Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day. See Answer

How do you  manage stomach flu in children?

  • Help your child to rehydrate with the help of oral rehydration solution (ORS) that is available at pharmacies. Your pediatrician may guide you to prepare this solution. It prevents and treats early dehydration and replaces the ongoing fluid loss.
  • Avoid giving plain water to your child because replacing lost electrolytes is also necessary.
  • Gradually introduce bland, easy-to-digest food such as bananas, rice and potatoes to your child.
  • Avoid certain food items such as dairy products or sugary foods such as ice cream, sodas and candy.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of rest to get rid of illness, weakness and dehydration.
  • If your sick baby is vomiting or has a bout of diarrhea, let their stomach rest for 15 to 20 minutes and then offer small amounts of liquid.
  • Continue breastfeeding your baby.
  • If your baby is bottle-fed, offer small sips of an ORS or a regular formula. Do not dilute the baby’s formula food.
  • When the child is mild-to-moderately dehydrated, resume the age-appropriate diet.
  • Age-appropriate diets should be continued in children with diarrhea who are not dehydrated.
  • Use medication in children only after discussing it with your pediatrician.
  • Your pediatrician may prescribe zinc supplements and probiotics to your child to reduce the severity and duration of illness.
  • If your child has shock, severe dehydration and low consciousness, then they need to be hospitalized and the pediatrician will give fluid therapy through the child’s vein.

How do I prevent stomach flu?

  • Always drink boiled water.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water several times a day.
  • Make sure your children also wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet. It is advised to use warm water and soap and rub hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds and then rinse thoroughly.
  • Carry sanitizing wipes for times when soap and water aren't available.
  • Avoid sharing eating utensils, drinking glasses and plates or sharing towels in the bathrooms.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is infected, if possible.
  • Disinfect your home by using a mixture of two cups (0.47 litres) of bleach to one gallon (3.8 litres) of water.
  • Get your child vaccinated with two oral rotavirus vaccines such as RotaTeq (three doses at ages two, four and six months) and Rotarix (two doses at ages two and four months).
    • While travelling
    • Drink only well-sealed bottled water
    • Avoid ice cubes because they may be made from contaminated water
    • Use bottled water to brush your teeth
    • Avoid raw food including peeled fruits, raw vegetables and salads that have been touched by human hands
    • Avoid undercooked meat and fish

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References
Medscape Medical Reference

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


CDC


Mayo Clinic

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