What is stomach flu?
Stomach flu, also called viral gastroenteritis, is a viral infection of the digestive tract. It is not the same as the flu (influenza)
, which affects the respiratory system. Stomach flu can last from one or two days up to 10 days, and can be mild or severe. While stomach flu usually resolves on its own, it can lead to dehydration in young children and babies.
The virus can spread easily from people who are infected. Be sure to wash your hands after using the bathroom or helping a child who is ill, and before preparing or eating food.
What are the symptoms of stomach flu?
The most common symptoms of stomach flu are:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach cramps and pain
- Watery diarrhea
- Headache or muscle aches
- Fever or chills
Watch for signs of dehydration, which may include:
- Dark urine
- Weakness or dizziness
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mouth
- Dry diaper, lack of tears or lethargy in young children
How is stomach flu treated?
Stomach flu usually does not require medical attention. Rest, drink plenty of fluids and let the virus run its course. Avoid solid foods, dairy products, caffeine and alcohol. Once the nausea has lessened, try eating easily digestible foods such as plain crackers, bananas, toast and rice. Seek treatment if the vomiting and diarrhea are not getting better or if you notice signs of dehydration.
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