Stomach Flu: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Stomach Flu: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Oct 01, 2020

Stomach flu, also known as gastroenteritis, is an infection that affects the stomach and the intestines. It could be either contagious or non-contagious. The former is mainly caused by bacterial or viral infections.

The non-contagious kind is brought about by toxins, food allergies, or side effects of medications.

Symptoms of Stomach Flu

Most stomach flu symptoms depend on the cause. Don’t hesitate to rush to the nearest ER if you start experiencing some of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea. The excrement will be very soft or watery. If the stomach flu is due to bacterial infection, you may have bloody diarrhea. These symptoms show severe stomach flu, thus requiring a visit to an emergency room for a check-up.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and stomach or abdominal pains may occur.
  • Mild fever accompanied by chills and muscle aches
  • Weight loss and lack of appetite
  • Dry skin or lips. This is a result of dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Headaches and lightheadedness

Causes of Stomach Flu

Below is an overview of the various reasons that can cause stomach flu:

– Bacteria

Bacterial organisms that are responsible for causing stomach flu are salmonella, shigella, or campylobacter. Shigella is passed from one person to another, especially in daycare centers.

Salmonella and campylobacter are gotten from undercooked poultry products. Live poultry or pet reptiles can also spread salmonella.

– Parasites

Parasitic organisms that cause stomach flu are usually picked up in contaminated public swimming pools or from contaminated water.

– Viral Causes

Two viruses are known to cause stomach flu. They include:

– Rotavirus

It is a common cause of viral stomach flu in children. This virus is transferred when children touch contaminated objects and later place their hands into their mouths. In adults, rotavirus does not cause symptoms but can be spread to other people without knowledge.

– Noroviruses

Both adults and children are affected by this virus. It is a food and water-borne disease and spreads quickly among people in limited spaces. Our doctors in Ascent Emergency Room will give you information on how to access viral gastroenteritis vaccines if this virus causes your condition.

Other Causes

Food allergies, antibiotics, and toxins also cause stomach flu. Before taking any medications, make sure to read the side effects listed. Gastroenteritis could also be a side effect of some medicines.

Who Is At Risk of Getting Stomach Flu

Gastroenteritis can affect anyone regardless of their social status. Fortunately, it is possible to avoid contracting stomach flu. However, you will be at a higher risk of getting stomach flu under the following circumstances:

  • You have a depressed or immature immune system. A weak immune system will likely be in people in vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.
  • If you live in a crowded place such as dorms or your diet is compromised of contaminated water or food.
  • Your medication consists of antibiotics. Antibiotics depress the gastrointestinal microbes allowing bacterial and viral infections to dominate.
  • Poor hygiene practices such as not washing your hands before eating or after using the restroom. Drinking contaminated water or eating uncooked or undercooked food will put you at a higher risk of contracting stomach flu.

Stomach Flu Treatment

There is no specific medication used in curing stomach flu. Antibiotics don’t work if the cause is a virus. But with the help of a professional, you can get prescriptions from your local store to help you ease up the symptoms.

Stomach flu usually lasts for about ten days. If they persist, visit your doctor for a check-up.

Self-Care Tips for Stomach Flu

The following care tips will help speed up the healing process to regain your full strength and health.

– Hydration

With constant vomiting and diarrhea, your body is probably dehydrated. Try taking fluids to keep your body liquid levels high. Take liquids slowly to keep them down for long. If you keep vomiting after drinking water or food, try eating ice cubes.

– Eating

Eating can be difficult if you have gastroenteritis. Try eating slowly to maintain your energy. Not all food substances are appropriate to consume when you have stomach flu. Avoid excess fibers in your diet, tomatoes, spicy or fatty foods since they could worsen the diarrhea.

Take a lot of soups and broths. Bananas will help you replace the potassium you lose while vomiting. Also, include rice in your diet. It is easy to digest and provides the energy needed.

– Supplements

Zinc supplements will help reduce the severity and duration of stomach flu.

– Rest

If you have gastroenteritis, you should not go to school or work. Much rest is needed for your body to fight off the infection. Reduce the number of activities you do.

Are you looking for an emergency room in Houston, TX? At Ascent Emergency Room, we care about your health and their emergency needs. We are located just a little away from you and provide exceptional and comprehensive emergency care appointments for the surrounding Houston area:

  • (Southampton) University Place
  • Rice Village
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  • Old Braeswood
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  • Brookhaven
  • Southside
  • Riverside Terrace
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