Natural Remedy for Stomach Flu – Norovirus
What people commonly refer to as stomach flu is also known as viral gastroenteritis. This isn't the same thing as influenza. Real flu (influenza) attacks your respiratory system – your nose, throat and lungs. Viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection.
Signs and Symptoms
Viral gastroenteritis may appear within one to three days after you're infected. Signs and symptoms range from mild to severe, and usually last just a day or two but occasionally persist as long as 10 days. Signs and symptoms include:
- watery, usually nonbloody diarrhea (bloody diarrhea may indicate a different infection)
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Nausea, vomiting or both
- Occasional muscle ache or headache
- Low-grade fever
Dehydration – a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals – is a serious complication of stomach flu. For infants, older adults and people with compromised immune systems, stomach flu can be deadly.
The ailment is spread through contact with an infected person or from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. In many cases, transmission follows the fecal-oral route – that is, someone with a virus handles food you eat without washing his or her hands after using the bathroom. Different virus can causes gastroenteritis, including the two most common culprits:
Rotavirus. This type of virus is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in children. Children usually are infected when they put fingers or objects contaminated with the virus into their mouths. Infected adults usually don't develop signs and symptoms, but can still spread the illness.
A rotaviral vaccine that's effective in preventing severe symptoms of gastroenteritis is available. Talk to your doctor about whether it's advisable to immunize your child.
Norovisuses. There are several different strains of norovirus, all of which cause similar signs and symptoms. In addition to diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, you may experience muscle ache, headache, fatigue and low-grade fever.
A norovirus infection may sweep through families, communities or large groups traveling, for example, on cruise ships. Most often, you pick up the infection from contaminated foor or water, but a person-to-person transmission also is possible.
After exposure to the virus, you're likely to feel sick within 18 to 72 hours. Most people feel better in a day or two, but you're still contagious for at least three days – and up to two weeks – after recover.
Keep yourself comfortable and prevent dehydration while you recover with the following steps:
- Allow your stomach to settle. No eating and drinking for a few hours after vomiting or diarrhea.
- Suck on ice chips or take small sips of water. Try to drink plenty of liquid every day, taking small, frequent sips. Also consider clear sodas (minus the sugary ones), clear broths or noncaffeinated sports drinks
- Ease back into eating. Gradually begin eating bland, easy-to-digest foods such as crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas, rice and chicken. Stop eating if the feeling of nausea returns.
- Avoid certain products. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Be cautious with medications. Use medications such as ibuprofen Advil, Motrin, others) sparingly, if at all. They can upset your stomach more. Also be cautious with acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), which can cause liver toxicity.
If your child has an intestinal infection, your most important goal is to replace lost fluids and salts.
- Help your child rehydrate. Let your child's stomach settle for 15 minutes to 20 minutes after any vomiting or diarrhea occurs, then offer small amounts of liquid. It's best to use oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte or a Homemade Pedialyte recipe :
Mix together 1 quart water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1.2 teaspoon salt
Add a few splashes of orage juice if you find the solution too bland.
In children with gastroenteritis, water isn't absorbed well and doesn't adequately replace lost electrolytes. Avoid giving apple juice – it can make diarrhea worse. If you're breas-feeding, let your baby nurse. If bottle-feeding, offer oral rehydration solution or regular formula.
- Get back to a normal diet slowly. Gradually introduce bland, easy-to-digest foods, such as rice, crackers, gelatin and bananas.
- Avoid certain foods. Dairy products and sugary foods, such as sodas and candy, can make diarrhea worse.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of rest.
- Be cautious with medications. Giving a child or teenager aspirin may cause Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease. Avoid giving your child over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medications such as Imodium unless advised by your doctor. They can make it harder for your child's body to eliminate the virus.
Seek Medical Help if:
- You're not able to keep liquids down for 24 hours
- You've been vomiting for more than two days
- You're vomiting blood or have blood in bowel movements
- You're dehydrated
- You have a fever above 104F
See your doctor right away if your child:
- Has a fever of 102F or higher
- Seems lethargic or very irritable
- Has bloody diarrhea
- Seems'dehydrated – watch for signs of dehydration in sick infants and children by comparing how much they drink and urinate with how much is normal for them
If you have an infant, remember that spitting up may be an everyday occurrence for your baby, but vomiting is not. Babies vomit for a variety of reasons, many of which may require medical attention.