Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

stomach fluThe stomach flu is an unpleasant illness that is contracted by millions of people all over the world.  It is caused by a virus and it mostly infects your stomach and intestines.  Needless to say, this is not a fun illness to deal with.  The symptoms vary from person to person, but there are a wide range of them that you can suffer from if you have the stomach flu.  Keep in mind that, even if you have had the flu vaccine, you are still susceptible to the stomach flu.  The flu shot does nothing to protect you from gastroenteritis (the official name of the stomach flu).

What are the symptoms?
As mentioned before, there are many different symptoms of gastroenteritis that you may experience.  Some of the most common are diarrhea or loose stools, chills and fever, weakness, dehydration, vomiting, stomach cramps, nausea, and tenderness of the stomach.  Every person will experience different things.  It is not necessary to have all of these symptoms for it to be the stomach flu, but it is usually only considered to be gastroenteritis if there is a fever.  However, it is still possible to have the stomach flu even if you have a normal temperature.

Vomiting and nausea as well as diarrhea, on top of a fever, are the most common symptoms for people who are suffering from the gastroenteritis.  They are not fun symptoms to have and can be treated, but you will usually have to visit a doctor if the symptoms persist over more than a week and a half.  If the symptoms continue for long periods of time, then you will have to be treated by a doctor, rather than continuing with treatment at home.  Thankfully, however, it is not always an illness that requires medical attention.

How is the stomach flu contracted?
Because the stomach flu is caused by an illness, there are a lot of different ways that you can get it.  There is no one specific way that you can get the illness.  It is most commonly contracted through improper hygiene or through coming in contact with someone else or something else that has the bacteria for gastroenteritis.

You can prevent getting the illness by avoiding crowded places where there are lots of people, or washing your hands frequently.  Use sanitary practices and avoid people whom you know have the stomach flu.  However, there is nothing that you can do to indefinitely prevent yourself from getting the illness because there is no vaccine or immunities to the virus.

How can you treat the stomach flu?
Since the stomach flu is an illness, you cannot fight it with antibiotics.  They will have no effect on the germs in your body.  This means that there are fewer medicines that you can use to treat the stomach flu, and it is often best treated at home.  However, if the illness persists for a long period of time, then you should go to the doctor because it may be something more serious than just the stomach flu.

To treat the stomach flu, you should try drinking lots of fluids.  Most of the time, going on an all liquid diet is the best option because it will help you to flush out your system and you will have an easier time keeping down liquids than you will most foods.  Drink a lot of water.  And get lots of rest.  Follow all of the things that your mother told you when you were a child because these are often the things that you work the best against the stomach flu.

Keep yourself hydrated as best as you can, and avoid eating solid foods until your body is ready for it.  If you have a fever, you can try to break the fever quickly rather than suffer through for hours.  However, having a fever is a sign that your body is fighting the infection on its own and it will help to kill off the germs that you don’t want in your body.  When you do this, you will heal faster than normal and you will be back and healthy again.

Is there any way to prevent the stomach flu?
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent it. The best things that you can do to keep yourself healthy by eating lots of fruits and vegetables—get all of the nutrients that you need.  Always keep yourself hydrated because this will help your body fight off unwanted germs that will make you sick.  Wash your hands frequently in order to keep away germs that will make you sick and spread disease.  This is the best that you can do—just keep yourself as healthy as possible and don’t expose your body and immune system to too many germs and you will be fine.

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