The stomach flu, symptoms and treatment

Having stomach flu can be very difficult, it is an acute infection caused by a virus. One of the most important symptoms is diarrhea and abdominal cramps. To treat or cure the disease, you usually do not need a medicine, just adjust your eating and drinking habits and the disease will heal naturally.

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What is the stomach flu?

Contrary to what the name itself says, stomach flu is not really a flu. Stomach flu does cause general flu symptoms but you will never suffer from a real flu. As with normal flu, stomach flu is also caused by virus infection. In babies and children this will be the rotavirus and in adults the norovirus. The virus that causes the acute infection that we call stomach flu is sometimes also accompanied by a bacterium or parasite such as salmonella and campylobacter. Although the stomach flu mainly occurs during the winter months, the disease is not seasonal and everyone always runs the risk of contracting stomach flu.

What are the symptoms of stomach flu

The most important phenomenon that pops up after the outbreak of stomach flu is diarrhea, you will then visit the W.C more often. and the bowel movements will be much more watery than normal. The bowel movements of babies can sometimes even come out. In addition to this diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, headache and vomiting sometimes occur. People infected with the virus will often also suffer from fever, often to more than 39 ° C. The main reason why the stomach flu is also called a flu is the possible flu feeling in the body, the muscle aches. The severity of all these symptoms can vary greatly and depends on factors such as the causative agent. With a bacterial stomach flu there is often even blood in the stool.

How is stomach flu treated and cured?

Stomach flu heals automatically

In principle, no medicines are needed to cure stomach flu. After a few days the diarrhea will become less severe, after that it will be some more thin stools. Healthy people with good resistance will be healed after a day or two, children or the elderly may suffer from it for a week or more. For healthy adults with good resistance, stomach flu is harmless. Small children and the elderly, on the other hand, are much more at risk, one of the biggest risks being dehydration due to severe diarrhea and fever.

Drink a lot

Although especially people with low resistance, children and the elderly are most at risk of dehydration, it is recommended to anyone who has stomach flu to drink enough. It is recommended that two to three liters of water per day should be drunk, especially after drinking stools or when the person has had to vomit. Children or babies must, as it were, be obliged to drink, babies may just as always be breastfed or bottle-fed. When babies are unsuccessful with milk, try diluted milk or lukewarm water. If the baby keeps vomiting, don't give up. It continues to need moisture, even if only per coffee spoon. Except for babies, it is recommended to drink the following drinks:
  • Water
  • Tea
  • Broth
  • Rice water
  • No jab or fruit juice!

Those who do not drink enough or do not drink the right things will probably show. When you have dried out, it is best to switch to the Oral Rehydration Solution or ORS. This contains salt and sugar in an ideal ratio that the body needs. You can get the ORS bags free at the pharmacy. The first signs of dehydration are:
  • Little or no peeing
  • Dark urine when urinating
  • Being very thirsty
  • Being drowsy or listless
  • A very dry mouth
  • Deep and dry eyes

Eating with stomach flu

Although the appetite will often be affected, it is advisable to eat as normally as possible, if necessary in small amounts. Certainly when you have to vomit it is not pleasant to consume large quantities at a time. If the digestion of 'normal' food is unsuccessful, you should temporarily switch to easily digestible products such as yoghurt. Fiber-rich products must then be avoided, so eat white rice and white bread. Fresh fruit and raw vegetables can also have an adverse effect on your intestines and are therefore best to avoid.

Medication for stomach flu

As mentioned earlier, taking medication is not necessary with stomach flu. Loperamide, such as Imodium, can help when you cannot go to the toilet immediately and it also helps with healing. However, it may not be used for longer than two days. Some tips that you can follow better:
  • Do not use Loperamide with a bacterial diarrhea
  • Do not use Loperamide if there is blood in the bowel movements
  • Do not use Loperamide for children under the age of six
  • Do not use Loperamide during pregnancy and lactation
  • Do not use vomiting agents
  • Antibiotics are only useful when a bacterial diarrhea continues

Treat stomach flu by doctor

Stomach flu is not the worst disease of them all, if you have a healthy resistance and follow the above tips properly, a doctor's intervention is usually not necessary. A doctor is best contacted in the following cases:
  • With more than six times a day water-thin stools, more than three days long
  • The diarrhea and fever last longer than three days
  • Upon dehydration

For elderly and children, the doctor is best immediately contacted. Appropriate treatment or medication is often required for people with a lower resistance or certain conditions.

Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: What is 'stomach flu?' (April 2020).

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