Don’t Let the Stomach Bug Get the Best of You

Seasonal Tips Steward Health Care

Its symptoms can come on subtly or hit hard, and it can spread through an entire family in a matter of days – the dreaded stomach flu, a.k.a. gastroenteritis! Although it’s commonly called stomach flu, gastroenteritis isn’t the same as influenza, which affects only the respiratory system. Gastroenteritis is a direct attack on the intestines and may cause:

  • Watery, diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Occasional muscle aches or a headache
  • Low-grade fever

A number of viruses can cause gastroenteritis, including noroviruses and rotaviruses. For both, symptoms may appear within one to three days after infection and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms usually last 24 to 48 hours, but may last as long as 10 days.

How to Stop the Spread of the Stomach Bug Once It Hits

When the stomach bug hits, it’s time to break out the disinfectants and also be aware of any close contact with infected people as this is how the virus spreads. You can prevent the spread by:

  • Limiting close contact
  • Not sharing food or eating utensils
  • Disinfecting contaminated surfaces and objects
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water

Managing the Stomach Bug

Even though when you’re in the middle of battling the stomach bug, the symptoms feel like they could last for eternity, there is an end in sight. To help you get through the day or two of symptoms, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Also, eat bland foods to reduce stress on your digestive system. If your child is sick, follow the same approach, and if you’re breastfeeding or using formula, continue to feed your child as usual.

When Should You See a Doctor

Typically, one can weather the stomach bug and its symptoms as the virus works through their system. But there are symptoms you should be aware of that may have you visit your doctor. If you’re an adult, call your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Can’t keep liquids down for 24 hours
  • Have been vomiting for more than two days
  • Vomiting blood
  • Dehydrated — signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, dry mouth, deep yellow urine or little or no urine, and severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Blood in bowel movements
  • A fever above 104 °F

For infants and children, you should see your pediatrician right away if your child:

  • Has a fever above 102 °F
  • Seems lethargic or very irritable
  • Is in a lot of discomfort or pain
  • Has bloody diarrhea
  • Is dehydrated

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment visit Steward DoctorFinder™.