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Stomach Flu - What Should You Know?

Reviewed by
Dr. Mitesh D Shah 90% (42 ratings)
MBBS
General Physician, Ahmedabad  •  28 years experience
Stomach Flu - What Should You Know?

Gastroenteritis or stomach flu is one of the commonest stomach infections in us, humans. It occurs due to infection by different viruses like the norovirus, which spread due to contaminated food. Its symptoms can be quite nasty- You may feel nauseous, have fever, fatigue, bloating, stomach pain, chills, diarrhoea and muscle aches and pains. And depending on the type of virus you have, stomach flu can last from one to 10 days. But is there a way to cull this stomach bug? Yes, more than one.

Read on to know more

  1. Drinking the right fluids is key to fast recovery: Fluids are critical for recovery from gastroenteritis because you’re losing vital body fluids through vomiting and diarrhoea. The right fluids are clear liquids like water and broth. Electrolyte containing drinks like sports drinks are pretty useful and so is ginger tea as ginger has anti-microbial qualities and helps with nausea. Peppermint tea helps calm your stomach. What not to drink? 
    • Coffee
    • Black tea
    • Chocolate
    • Any drink with caffeine is contraindicated when a stomach bug bites. Caffeine affects sleep and a good night’s sleep is important for a full recovery.
    • Alcohol should also be strictly avoided as it’s a diuretic and can dehydrate you further.
  2. Stick to BRAT dietThe BRAT diet i.e bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast should be your mainstay during stomach flu. The diet has foods that are super easy to digest, contain a lot of carbohydrates to give you energy and provide you nutrients which you’ve lost through vomiting and diarrhoea.
    • Bananas: Bananas are easy to digest and replace lost nutrients like potassium. They also strengthen stomach lining.
    • Rice: Avoid brown rice as it has too much fibre, but white rice is good for sensitive stomach and provides energy from carbohydrates.
    • Applesauce: Provides energy due to carbs and sugars, and also contains pectin to help control diarrhoea.
    • Toast: Avoid whole-wheat bread because fibre is difficult to digest. White bread is easier to digest.
    • What to avoid?
      • Milk and curd are both to be avoided as they are hard to digest.
      • Fibre containing foods: When your bowels are loose, you don’t need the extra fibre.
      • Salty and oily foods like rich curries.
      • Do away with tomato sauces, tomato-based dishes, curries, and chillies.
  3. Rest: Rest is required to fight off the stomach bug. It’s better if you reduce your activities during the day.
  4. Medications: Stomach flu lasts for a maximum of 10 days and medicines like antibiotics don’t help as they can’t fight a virus. You can take medicines to help control symptoms of the problem, but you should do so sparingly. Like you can take ibuprofen for fever, headache, or muscle aches. Tylenol can also relieve fever and aches and has fewer side effects than ibuprofen and is easier on your stomach.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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