You wake up and find yourself tired. You slept for eight hours but still feel like you could sleep for another eight. Your eyes feel heavy. Your head feels foggy. You’re just not feeling right.
You go to the doctor, who gives you some medicine and tells you that you’ve caught a nasty stomach bug. You feel terrible. You’re sick, but you know it’s not just a stomach bug. You’re dehydrated. What now?
What is viral gastroenteritis?
Viral gastroenteritis is a highly contagious infection of the stomach and intestines. It is often called the “stomach flu” although it has nothing to do with influenza. The most common symptom of viral gastroenteritis is diarrhea, which can be watery or bloody. Fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain are additional symptoms. Viral gastroenteritis is usually caused by rotaviruses, noroviruses, adenoviruses, or astroviruses. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing dehydration. There is no specific antiviral treatment for viral gastroenteritis. Prevention of viral gastroenteritis includes good hygiene practices and prompt treatment of any underlying illnesses.
Symptoms: what are the symptoms of stomach flu?
The most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms may include fever, abdominal pain, and dehydration. Most people with the stomach flu recover without treatment. However, some people may need to be hospitalized for dehydration. Treatment for the stomach flu focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing dehydration.
Drink lots of fluids if you have the stomach flu to avoid dehydrating. Drink clear liquids like water, broth, and sports drinks. Avoid dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol. Eat several small meals throughout the day as opposed to three large ones.
Treatment: how is stomach flu treated?
Viral gastroenteritis, commonly known as stomach flu, is very unpleasant. One treatment option for severe cases of viral gastroenteritis is IV hydration therapy. This involves being hooked to an IV drip to receive fluids and electrolytes. This can help in rehydrating your body and prevent other complications from the stomach flu.
The IV fluids given to you may include saline solution. Which helps prevent dehydration and is given in small amounts. It can be followed by a salt or sugar solution. If you are experiencing any symptoms of the stomach flu, be sure to seek medical attention immediately.
Prevention: how can you prevent stomach flu?
There are a few things you can do to help prevent stomach flu:
- Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom or coming into contact with someone sick.
- Avoid sharing food or drinks with others.
- Clean any surfaces that the virus might have touched.
- Stay home if you are sick and rest properly.
Tips to Combat Dehydration
Dehydration is one of the main concerns with stomach flu. The best way to combat dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. Drink small sips of clear fluids every 15 minutes or so. Some good options include water, sports drinks, clear broth, and frozen water or ice chips.
Drink more if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea. Dehydration can worsen if you consume sugary beverages like soda. If you find swallowing difficult, try sucking on ice chips or Popsicles.
SEE A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY if you experience any warning signs of dehydration: extreme thirst, little to no urination, severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
While drinking plenty of fluids is the best way to prevent and treat viral gastroenteritis, IV hydration therapy is sometimes necessary. This is especially helpful for those who cannot keep fluids down or are becoming dehydrated. IV hydration therapy can help replenish fluids and electrolytes, which can be done in a hospital or outpatient setting. Some nurses can even come to your home for treatment.