Feeling Queasy? Here’s How to Treat the Stomach Flu at Home
We all have busy lives and no one has time for the stomach flu. The stomach flu is a common name for gastroenteritis, an infection causing upset stomach that can very easily spread between people in schools and the workplace. If you’re feeling a little queasy, here’s how to tell if you have the stomach flu – and how to help yourself feel better if you do.
The stomach flu is a highly contagious illness with a variety of causes. The infection can be viral or bacterial, and you might get the germ from eating spoiled food and contaminated water or from someone else who has been sick. Although the causes of the stomach flu are varied, most cases usually share these symptoms in common:
- Cramps and pains in the abdominal area
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Muscle aches
If you are experiencing these symptoms and think you might have the stomach flu, the best thing you can do is take a break from the rush of the season to rest up and heal. While you’re resting, here are 5 more ways you can treat the stomach flu at home:
- 1. Give your stomach time to rest. During the first few hours you feel sick, don’t eat any food. This helps calm your stomach and allows it to start healing.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid dehydration by sipping on liquids that are gentle on your stomach, such as water, sports drinks, clear broth or clear soda. Be sure to choose drinks that aren’t overly sugary and are caffeine-free.
- Replace electrolytes lost through vomiting and diarrhea. Electrolytes are very important for many aspects of your health, but they can easily be lost when you have the stomach flu. You can replace them by drinking water with added electrolytes, sports drinks and broths.
- Begin eating gentle foods. After your stomach has settled and you start to feel better, eat easy-to-digest foods such as dry toast, plain rice, crackers, chicken, applesauce and bananas. It’s best to avoid dairy, fatty and spicy foods until you feel healthy again.
- When you’re feeling better, return to a normal healthy diet. While the gentle foods listed above help your stomach heal while you’re sick, they are missing key nutrients you need to heal. Returning to a well-rounded, healthy diet once you feel better helps you gain your strength back.
- Wash hands with regular soap under warm running water after using the restroom, changing a child’s diaper and before meals. This will also hep prevent person to person spread of the bug through a household.
If you have the stomach flu, you’ll most likely feel better in a day or two. But if symptoms persist or you notice more serious issues such as severe dehydration or bloody stool, reach out for help from a health care provider immediately.
About the Author
Kiran Anna, MD is a Gastroenterologist with Alamance Gastroenterology in Burlington