Stomach Flu: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies, Diet

What Is Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis?

Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis is a pathological condition of the intestine and characterized by severe watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and at times fever. This condition is usually caused by consuming contaminated food or water and the symptoms usually resolve on their own with time in healthy individuals, but in people with compromised immune system like the elderly population or infants this condition can be significantly serious. There is no definitive cure for this condition as it is usually a self limiting disease but prevention is of utmost importance, especially in old people and infants which is by avoiding contaminated food and water and staying away from places where one may become vulnerable to this condition.

Stomach Flu

What Are The Causes Of Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis?

As stated, Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis is most commonly caused by eating or drinking contaminated food and water. It can also be caused by sharing food and utensils used by an individual who has been affected by Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis. Some of the viruses which can cause Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis are:

  • Norovirus: This is the most common virus that causes Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis. It can affect both children as well as the adult population. It is a pretty contagious virus and spread easily from one person to other, especially if people are living in confined spaces.
  • Rotavirus: This causes Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis in children when they put their fingers on objects containing the virus and then put the finger in their mouth thus getting infected. In the United States, a vaccine is available against rotavirus and is significantly effective in controlling the disease.

How Does Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis Spread?

Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis is an extremely contagious disease and it spreads like wildfire. It can spread by vomitus or feces of the affected individual: It can also spread through direct contact with the infected individual like a cordial handshake as he or she may have the virus in the hands. The virus can also spread by using objects or utensils used by the affected individual which may be contaminated like spoons, forks etc. Sharing food with an affected individual can cause the virus to spread The most vulnerable individual to get the disease is the one who is close to an affected individual especially for the first couple of days after recovery.

What Are Some Of The Symptoms Of Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis?

Symptoms of Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis Include:

  • Severe watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping along with pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Slight fever.

These symptoms may announce their presence depending on the cause and may appear within a couple of days after getting infected with the virus. The symptoms usually last for a couple of days but at times they persist up to a week or so.

How Is Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis is made based on the symptoms experienced by the individual or child. If there have been a number of cases of similar symptoms in the community then it makes it easier for the physician to diagnose this condition. A rapid stool test can be done which helps in identifying rotavirus or norovirus.

What Are Treatments For Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis?

Since Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis is a self limiting disease condition, there is no specific treatment for it. Antibiotics cannot be used as they are ineffective against viruses and if they are overused then they can cause development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Medications can be given for control of diarrhea but usually self measures are of big help in resolving the symptoms.

What Are Some Home Remedies For Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis?

Here are some remedies that one can do at home for Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis:

  • Try to be as comfortable as possible and drink plenty of fluids to keep self hydrated
  • Avoid eating solid foods for some time.
  • Try and suck ice chips.
  • Drinking clear soda is also helpful.
  • Try and drink non-caffeinated sports drinks.
  • Gradually go back to eating beginning with bland foods which can be easily digested by the body like bananas, rice, or chicken. In case, nausea comes back stop eating it.
  • Avoid consuming dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, or spicy or oily foods for some time until the symptoms improve.
  • Take plenty of rest
  • Try and avoids medication use especially medications like ibuprofen as it can upset the stomach even more.

Stomach Flu Or Viral Gastroenteritis: Comprehensive Diet Plan

Some of the foods suggested for an individual who is suffering with Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis are:

  • Soups: Soup is a source which can provide invaluable amount of fluids which goes a long way in preventing dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting because of the infection. These fluids also facilitate elimination of various toxins from the body through urine thus expediting the recovery from this infection. The recommended form of soups for Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis is plain broth soups which contain ingredients which are easy to digest by the body like pasta or soft beans. One can also take potato soup made from water than milk.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Juices made out of fresh fruits and vegetables increase hydration and nutrition to the body which is essential in Stomach Flu or Viral Gastroenteritis. If fresh vegetables are added as an ingredient in soup then it gives the body strength to fight infections. As and when the diarrhea starts getting under control then adding soft foods to the diet like bananas and potatoes is quite helpful. Additionally, foods like applesauce, peeled apples, steamed cauliflower, cooked carrots etc. are also recommended.
  • Soft-Grains: Grains like breads, cereals, rice provide significant amount of glucose to the body which acts as a source for energy, although sometimes it is difficult to digest these types of foods until the condition is completely controlled. In the recovery phase, it is recommended to eat soft breads like wheat bread, and brown rice. Additionally one can also eat bland soft-grain foods like include well-cooked pasta, hot cereals, or barley soup.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 16, 2022

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