Surviving the Stomach Flu: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Stomach flu is a viral infection that leads to the irritation and inflammation in your small intestine. This condition is called gastroenteritis. While it is not harmful, in some cases, it can be severe if you do not notice its symptoms and get treatment.
If you have questions about stomach flu, you can visit Doral Health and Wellness. We have the best gastroenterologist that can help you with your condition. You can contact us by visiting our clinic or visiting our website at https://doralhw.org/.
Stomach flu or Gastroenteritis is a viral infection that affects your intestines and causes irritation or inflammation of your gut. You can notice symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or fever. This happens when you come in contact with an infected person or eat contaminated food. Although it will heal on its own after several days if you are healthy. But in some cases, if you develop symptoms of dehydration, you need emergency medical care or need to be admitted to the hospital.
Stomach flu is caused by a viral infection when you come in contact with an infected person or contaminated food or water. There are 2 types of viral infections that can cause stomach flu:
- Rotavirus: This is the most common viral infection that affects children and causes viral gastroenteritis. This infection spreads when kids touch the same objects or toys that are used by infected kids and then put their infected fingers or hands in their mouth or eat contaminated food. This infection can be severe for young kids or infants and although it also affects adults, they may not show symptoms, but can still transfer the infection to other people. This is mostly possible in confined places or places where infected people can easily be found (such as hospitals or nursing homes). You can get a prophylactic dose of its vaccine to prevent the spread of the infection.
- Norovirus: This is the viral gastroenteritis that affects both adults and children. This is the most common viral infection worldwide that causes stomach flu and is spread through contaminated food. It can easily spread if you’re living in confined places. Most of the time, people get infected by eating contaminated food or water or by coming in contact with an infected person (by sharing utensils, food, clothes, or other objects or things).
Stomach flu symptoms start to show up after you get infected, and may present as:
- Watery diarrhea
- Stomach cramps
If symptoms of dehydration show up, such as dry mouth, dry skin, feeling lightheaded, sunken muscles, or extremely thirsty, visit your doctor immediately.
To diagnose viral gastroenteritis, your doctor asks for the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor also does a quick stool test or a physical exam to detect the virus. But it only works with rotavirus or norovirus, not with other viral infections.
In some cases, doctors might also ask you to submit a stool test sample to check for the possibility of bacterial or parasitic infection. A sigmoidoscopy test may be done to look for the signs of inflammatory bowel disease (in your large intestine).
Treatment involves hygiene practices and self-care measures, such as:
- Try to keep yourself hydrated. Keep drinking water to avoid dehydration. In the case of children, give them an ORS (oral rehydration solution). Talk to your doctor to know the right ORS dose for kids and infants.
- Remember that you should drink water slowly in small sips to avoid nausea or vomiting. You can also drink electrolyte liquids to keep yourself hydrated.
- Try to avoid solid food for a few hours and eat only when you feel hungry.
- Avoid certain types of foods until you get better (such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty and seasonal foods).
- Take plenty of rest.
Some types of medications such as loperamide, Pepto-Bismol, and others are effective in some cases to manage the symptoms. But if you have bloody diarrhea or fever, avoid these medications, it will make things worse. Instead, visit your doctor.
If you or your loved one has symptoms for any digestive disorders, have them/yourself checked. You can schedule an appointment with Doral Health and Wellness Gastroenterology Center’s best gastro doctors in Brooklyn. To schedule an appointment, please visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11212 or call 1-347-384-5690.