Gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, is an inflammation in the stomach and intestines. It is a very common health issue that requires immediate attention. This condition may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergic reactions to certain foods.
Symptoms mostly start one or two days after coming in contact with the virus. Stomach flu may last 1 to 10 days. The most common symptoms are: diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, nausea, and gas. You should call your doctor if these symptoms persist or grow worse for more than 24 to 48 hours. To treat it at home, you need to stay hydrated (drink a lot of fluids) and eat fat-free foods.
- Keep a fat-free diet.
- Do not eat meats, dairy products (milk, cheese, or ice cream), or citric fruit (oranges, grapefruits, or pineapples).
- Eat soda crackers, corn flakes without milk, gelatin, and apple sauce.
- In the case of children, after the vomiting stops, they may eat ripe bananas, apples, rice, and clear juices (non-citric or acid).
- Drink fluids, such as distilled water, soda, and Pedialyte.
- Avoid contact with water that has been polluted or not purified. It may carry viruses and bacteria.
- As soon as symptoms appear.
- If the vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches last more than 48 hours for adults, or 24 hours for children.
- If the diarrhea is green or has blood in it.
- Do not share utensils, cups, dishes, forks, or spoons. Wash these well after using them.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
- Cook food fully.
- Boil and filter water before drinking.
- Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing your baby’s diaper.
- Remove any bedding that has been soiled with vomit or feces. Wash right away.
- Carefully handle (do not shake) any soiled clothes to avoid spreading the virus.
- Clean and disinfect soiled surfaces right away after every episode of vomiting or diarrhea. Use a chlorine-based household cleaner.
People of all ages and backgrounds may get viral gastroenteritis. Small children are more at risk than adults. The most important thing when treating stomach flu in children and adults is to avoid the severe loss of fluids (dehydration). Treatment should start at home. Your doctor may give you specific instructions about the fluids you should drink.