The stomach flu, known as gastroenteritis, is an infection. It affects the stomach and intestines. It causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. It’s not usually severe in healthy adults. But, it can cause dehydration, which is risky. Home remedies, like getting rest, drinking fluids, the BRAT diet, and some medicines, can ease symptoms and help deal with the sickness. It’s very important to drink lots of fluids, avoid certain foods, and go to a doctor if you’re having serious symptoms or they’re getting worse.

What is the Stomach Flu?

The stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, is an infection of the stomach and intestines. It’s often caused by viruses but can also be from bacteria or parasites. This is not the same as the flu that affects the respiratory system. The stomach flu is easy to catch through contact with infected stuff or by eating/drinking contaminated items.

Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis)

Gastroenteritis, commonly known as the stomach flu, makes your stomach and intestines inflamed. It can come from different viruses, bacteria, or parasites. This leads to symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pains, and feeling sick.

Causes of Stomach Flu

Viruses, like norovirus and rotavirus, are the main culprits of the stomach flu. Bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, can also cause it. Sometimes, parasites, like Giardia, are to blame. No matter what causes it, the stomach flu symptoms are bad and can mess up your day.

Difference Between Stomach Flu and Food Poisoning

The stomach flu and food poisoning share some symptoms but are different problems. Food poisoning comes from eating or drinking bad stuff. The stomach flu is usually from a virus, bacteria, or parasite. Symptoms and how long they last vary between these two issues.

Stomach Flu

Symptoms of Stomach Flu

Common Symptoms

Stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, brings on a slew of unpleasant symptoms. You might have watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, and feel nausea. You could also vomit and run a fever. These symptoms start showing up 1-2 days after catching the virus or bacteria.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration is a serious risk with the stomach flu. This illness causes a lot of fluid loss through diarrhea and vomiting. Signs of dehydration include less urination, dark urine, dizziness, and a dry mouth. It’s key to drink plenty of clear fluids and electrolyte drinks to keep your body’s fluids and salts balanced.

stomach flu symptoms

Home Remedies for Stomach Flu: Natural Solutions for Symptom Relief

Stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, often goes away on its own in 1-10 days. But, you can find relief with home remedies or over-the-counter options. These can help manage symptoms.

Rest and Fluids

Rest is key for getting over the stomach flu. Dehydration and illness can make you feel very tired and weak. It’s vital to rest to let your body recover. Also, drink plenty of water to replace fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhea.

Heating Pad

Using a heating pad on your belly can ease stomach flu cramps and pain. The heat from the pad helps relax your muscles and makes you feel better.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) can lower a fever and ease headaches or muscle pains. Be sure to follow the directions on the label. If your symptoms get worse, talk to a doctor.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Many medicines can help with stomach flu symptoms, like those for nausea or diarrhea. But, be careful as not all are safe for everyone. Talk to your doctor before giving these to children.


Eating yogurt or taking probiotic supplements can help your gut get back to normal faster. Probiotics strengthen your digestion and immune system.

Zinc Supplements

Zinc, found in supplements, might make stomach flu milder and shorter. It boosts the immune system, helping the body fight viruses better.


Pressing on certain points on your body can reduce feeling sick or vomiting from stomach flu. This natural method can be done at home without any medicine.


Stomach Flu Diet

When hit by the stomach flu, eating and drinking right is key. You should opt for foods that are gentle on the stomach. This helps you recover without making matters worse.

Foods to Eat

The BRAT diet is perfect for stomach flu days. It includes Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These choices are gentle on the tummy and rich in nutrients. They won’t make your symptoms worse. You can also try:

  • Lean proteins like skinless chicken or turkey
  • Potatoes, which are a good source of potassium
  • Fruits with high water content, such as watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, and peaches
  • Electrolyte-rich drinks like sports drinks or coconut water

Foods to Avoid

Stay away from foods that can upset your digestive system more. This list includes:

  1. Dairy products like milk, ice cream, and cheese
  2. Sweets and sugary drinks, such as soda, candy, and ice cream
  3. Spicy, fried, or high-fat foods
  4. Caffeine and alcohol

By keeping to a stomach flu diet, you support your healing. This diet is all about mild, easy-to-digest options. It’s the best way to tackle the virus.

stomach flu diet

Staying Hydrated

When you have the stomach flu, keeping hydrated is key. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause you to lose lots of fluids. So, it’s vital to drink plenty of fluids for a quick recovery.

Water and Clear Liquids

Water and clear liquids help a lot when you’re sick with the stomach flu. Broth, herbal tea, or even sports drinks with electrolytes are good choices. Remember to take small sips often to make up for what your body is losing.

Oral Rehydration Solutions

Pedialyte or your own homemade electrolyte drinks are great for getting back the salts and minerals you lose. They’re recommended for everyone, including kids, to fight off dehydration from the flu.

staying hydrated

Rest and Recovery

When you’re fighting the stomach flu, it’s critical to rest. Your body needs time to recover from the illness. Feeling weak and tired is common. So, take time off from work or school to heal. This break lets your body focus on getting better and replacing lost fluids.

Resting well is key to recovering from the stomach flu. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. If you’re tired during the day, taking naps is fine. Sleep and rest help your body heal and regain its strength.

Hydrating is also crucial. Drink water, electrolytes, and broths often. Don’t do any intense activities until you’re fully better. This can make your illness last longer or make you feel worse. Let your body guide you. Don’t rush to get back to normal too quickly.

resting with stomach flu

By being patient and taking care of yourself, you will recover soon. Don’t forget to give your body the rest and time it needs to heal from the stomach flu.

Preventing the Stomach Flu

Stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, is highly contagious. To lower your risk, be sure to keep your hands clean, regularly clean surfaces, and be careful with food. These steps can make a big difference in keeping you and others safe.

Hand Hygiene

Good hand hygiene is key. Always wash your hands with soap and water. Do this after using the bathroom, before eating, and after being close to sick people. If you can’t wash, use hand sanitizer.

Cleaning Surfaces

The stomach flu virus can stay alive on surfaces for days. So, to prevent its spread, clean and disinfect often-touched places. Use a solution of bleach or a good disinfectant. Always clean countertops, doorknobs, and faucets well.

Food Safety

To stop the stomach flu, follow safe food practices. Wash your hands before cooking. Make sure meats and eggs are fully cooked. Also, don’t mix raw and cooked foods. When taking care of a sick person, make their meals separately. This keeps the virus from spreading.

Medical Treatment Options

When facing the stomach flu, home remedies and self-care can help a lot. But, there are times doctors might suggest some treatments to help more. Let’s look at these options closely.


It’s crucial to remember that antibiotics don’t work on the viruses behind most stomach flu cases. Usually, stomach flu clears up on its own. But, if a doctor thinks your symptoms are from a bacterial infection, they may prescribe antibiotics.

Anti-Diarrheal Medications

Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal meds like loperamide (Imodium A-D) or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) can be a relief for some adults. They slow down your digestive system, easing diarrhea. Yet, it’s best not to use them with bloody diarrhea or fever, as they might make things worse.


Probiotics are good bacteria that can be very helpful after stomach flu. They can improve your gut health and lessen symptoms. Eating yogurts, kefir, and fermented veggies, or taking supplements, can be good.

Intravenous Fluids

If severe dehydration hits, especially in kids, IV fluids may be needed. These fluids help replace the fluids and electrolytes lost. This is key for people who can’t drink enough due to vomiting and diarrhea.

Rotavirus Vaccine

For kids, getting the rotavirus vaccine is a smart step to avoid a major stomach flu culprit. This vaccine, given in several doses early in a child’s life, guards against a strain of rotavirus that can be very severe.

When to See a Doctor

You can usually manage stomach flu at home. Just rest, drink fluids, and take care of yourself. But if [when to see a doctor for stomach flu] comes up, seeking medical help is wise.

If any of these problems crop up, it’s time to get help:

  • Severe or persistent vomiting that prevents you from keeping down fluids
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 2 days in adults or 24 hours in children
  • Signs of dehydration, such as excessive thirst, dizziness, or dark urine
  • High fever (over 101°F or 38.3°C)
  • Blood in your stool or vomit
  • Abdominal pain that is severe or persistent
  • If you’re an infant, elderly, or have a compromised immune system

If you have any of these signs, it’s crucial to [when to see a doctor for stomach flu]. You might require special care, like intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration or antibiotics if a bacterial cause is likely. If you get worried or your symptoms get worse, don’t wait. Contact your doctor right away.

Caring for Infants and Children

Infants and children get dehydrated fast when they have the stomach flu. This is why keeping them hydrated is very important when looking after them.

Oral Rehydration Solutions

To stop children from getting dehydrated with the stomach flu, give them oral rehydration solutions. These drinks are full of electrolytes to replace lost fluids and minerals. You can use drinks like Pedialyte, Gatorade, or mix water, salt, and sugar at home.

Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding

If you are taking care of an infant, breastfeeding is a great choice during the stomach flu. Breast milk calms a sick baby’s stomach and is easy to digest.

If your baby usually has formula, keep giving it. But, offer it in smaller amounts, more often, to avoid throwing up.

No matter how your child normally eats, watch out for signs of dehydration. These signs include dark urine, being very sleepy, or breathing quickly. If you see these signs, get medical help right away.

Diagnosis of Stomach Flu

Doctors use your symptoms and health history to spot stomach flu. They’ll ask about your symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. A check-up may show signs of dehydration.

For some patients, a stool test may be needed. This test checks for bacteria or parasites. It can also find viruses like rotavirus or norovirus, known stomach flu causes. Yet, it can’t find all viruses that cause stomach issues.

Since stomach flu is caused by viruses, antibiotics won’t help. The key is to ease symptoms and prevent dehydration. You can do this by drinking lots of fluids and resting.

If your symptoms are bad or last long, see a health pro. They can give tips on how to handle stomach flu and make you feel better.

Preparing for a Doctor’s Appointment

If you’re feeling very sick with stomach flu for more than a few days, it’s wise to see your doctor. There are some key steps to get ready for the visit. These steps will help you talk more effectively with your doctor and get the best care possible.

  1. Make a list of what you feel. Write down when it started, how bad it is, and if there are any repeated patterns. This will make it easier for your doctor to grasp your symptoms and suggest the right treatment.
  2. Bring all your health records. Tell your doctor about any past health issues or if you’ve been to other places recently. This info could change how your doctor thinks about and treats your stomach flu.
  3. Jot down any questions you have. You might want to know about the causes, treatments, tests, and what you can do at home. Asking these questions will help you understand what to do next.
  4. Talk about any home treatments or medicines you’ve used. Let your doctor know what you’ve already tried. It could help them figure out the best next steps for you.
  5. Share what worries you about how you got the stomach flu. If you think it’s from a sick person or bad food, tell your doctor. They can offer tips on how to avoid making others sick.

Getting ready for your doctor’s visit is crucial. It helps you talk better about your symptoms. Plus, it guides the doctor in choosing the right treatment for your recovery.


The stomach flu, known as viral gastroenteritis, spreads easily and affects the stomach and intestines. It brings on symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and tummy pain. While it’s not usually dangerous for healthy adults, you should manage symptoms well to avoid dehydration.

Handling the flu at home is possible with some steps. Get lots of rest, drink fluids, and try natural cures. Knowing the causes, symptoms, and how long it lasts helps you deal with it. Keep good hygiene and see a doctor if needed to get better quicker.

If you or a loved one has the flu, pay attention to how you feel and keep drinking water. Rest is important for recovery. Use the advice in this article to face the flu confidently and soon, you’ll be feeling like yourself again.


What is the stomach flu?

The stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, infects the stomach and intestines. It leads to symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.

What causes the stomach flu?

Viruses often cause the stomach flu. Yet, bacteria or parasites can cause it too. It spreads easily through contact with infected persons or surfaces.

How long does the stomach flu last?

This flu usually goes away in 1-10 days. However, the length can change based on the infection’s cause and how serious it is.

What are the symptoms of the stomach flu?

Symptoms include watery diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Fever might happen too.

How can I prevent the spread of the stomach flu?

You can stop spreading it by washing hands often, cleaning surfaces, and keeping food safe.

When should I see a doctor for the stomach flu?

See a doctor if your symptoms are severe, if you get dehydrated, or if you have health issues. These cases need extra care.

How can I care for a child with the stomach flu?

Hydration is key. Give them lots of water and oral solutions. Keep breastfeeding or formula feeding as much as possible.

What home remedies can help with the stomach flu?

Rest and hydration are the first steps. Use a heating pad and consider over-the-counter meds. Natural options like probiotics and zinc might also help.

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