Stomach flu, also called gastroenteritis, is a viral infection affecting the stomach and intestines. Typical stomach flu symptoms include chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and low grade fever. If you or a loved one is suffering from stomach flu, use the following home remedies to get relief.
1. Rest the stomach
This is one of the best and most effective stomach flu remedies for adults and toddlers. Avoid eating anything solid. You may drink some clear liquids, soups, broth or stew. Soft and bland food like rice is easiest to digest. For toddlers, sucking on candy, Popsicle or ice chips can help. Give the child sips of water to prevent dehydration.
2. Drink lot of water
A long as you are able to keep it down, drink plenty of water. This is important to prevent dehydration. If you are having diarrhea or are vomiting frequently, then make sure you drink some electrolyte solution to replace the lost potassium, sodium and glucose.
3. Drink clear liquids
These include weak tea, miso, bouillon, and apple juice. Avoid caffeinated beverages which can further dehydrate your body. You can drink chilled or warm liquids-whatever helps you keep it down. Avoid giving milk to toddlers until they have stopped vomiting or until their diarrhea is cured.Avoid acidic liquids like orange juice as well as carbonated drinks as they can worsen stomach flu symptoms.
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4. Stomach flu is contagious
Stomach flu can spread through touching, kissing etc. handled by the patient So make sure you wash your hands frequently and especially before handling items used by other family members. Avoid touching food or drinking water.Avoid touching your hand to your face. Stay away from infected family members. Clean the toilets and bathrooms and wipe down surfaces like door knobs with some bleach solution, to prevent the germs from spreading.
5. Avoid sharing items
To avoid spreading the disease, do not share items like drinking glasses, water bottles, lip balms and even towels. Stay at home and do not go out for social events, work or college/school.
6. What to give toddlers with stomach flu
Solutions like Pedialyte® are best for stomach flu in kids and toddlers. You can also give homemade sugar and salt solution with a little flat ginger ale added to it. You can also give diluted sports drinks (diluted with 50% water) to help replace lost electrolytes. If the toddler has just vomited, wait for 2 hours before giving him/her anything to drink.
7. Eat the BRATS diet
If you have not vomited for at least 8 hours, you may start eating a bland BRATS diet:
- B-Bread or bananas to replace lost potassium
- R-Rice, plain or cereal or rice crackers
- A-Applesauce or apples to thicken bowel movement
- T-Toast with little butter or jam
- S-Saltine crackers to replace sodium lost with vomiting
Avoid foods that increase diarrhea including papaya, whole grain breads, cereals, bran, milk and milk products, peas and beans, nuts, seeds, coconut and popcorn.
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8. Moving on to next stage foods
Once you are able to tolerate the above foods, you may start consuming mashed potatoes, cream of wheat or rice, broiled lean meat like chicken or fish, poached or soft boiled eggs, well cooked vegetables, sherbet etc.
9. When to see a doctor
If you have been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea for over a week, (or develop a sudden and severe headache or rash), see a doctor immediately. In case of toddlers, visit the pediatrician immediately if s/he has not produced urine for over 24 hours or has fever over 100.5 F.
Stomach flu symptoms usually resolve within a week. If you are still feeling sick, visit your healthcare provider immediately.