How To Stop A Stomach Virus From Spreading
Most strains of the virus are extremely contagious. That means your entire family can very quickly get sick. If you are lucky enough to have only one person in the family sick before it spreads, the best thing you can do to protect others is to isolate the sick individual, and then clean as best as you can, says Dr. Kondis. The incubation period for the common stomach virus is between 12 and 48 hours.
Wash hands frequently,” she says. “Some viruses that cause stomach flu, such as Norovirus, can actually survive hand sanitizer, so it is best to wash with soap and water. Also wash bedding, towels, and other things that children are using while they are sick.”
And be sure to wash any surfaces that your child comes into contact with while they’re sick. “Some viruses can survive on hard surfaces for days,” Dr. Kondis elaborates. “Consider using a diluted bleach solution in addition to soap and water. Pay attention to commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs, sink faucets, and toilet seats and handles. Anything that comes into contact with even the smallest amount of infected bodily fluid is fair game for spreading the virus.
If your child throws up on the floor, consider wearing a face mask and gloves when tackling the clean-up task. Use a substance that dries the solid waste, making it easier to pick up without splashing everywhere, which can increase the likelihood of spreading germs.
How Is Stomach Flu Treated
Seek immediate medical attention after the symptoms appear. Stomach flu is caused by a virus and medication does not help much and the stomach flu resolves on its own after it has run its course and the incubation period has been completed.
Supportive treatment for stomach flu consists of:
- It is important to take adequate rest and drink plenty of fluid, especially when there is vomiting and diarrhea in stomach flu.
- In case of fever in stomach flu, medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are prescribed to bring down the fever.
- The initial few days of stomach flu, patient should consume a liquid diet only after which patient needs to switch to a bland BRAT diet, which consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
- After a few days patient should consume diet rich in potassium , salt and yogurt. A little bit of fat intake is also important, which can be done by consuming some butter or lean meat to slow the digestion and reduce the diarrhea.
Looking After A Child With Gastroenteritis
You can look after your child at home if they have diarrhoea and vomiting. There’s not usually any specific treatment and your child should start feeling better in a few days.
You don’t normally need to get medical advice unless their symptoms don’t improve or there’s a risk of a more serious problem.
To help ease your child’s symptoms:
- Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids. They need to replace the fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea. Water is generally best. Avoid giving them fizzy drinks or fruit juice, as they can make their diarrhoea worse. Babies should continue to feed as usual, either with breast milk or other milk feeds.
- Make sure they get plenty of rest.
- Let your child eat if they’re eating solids and feel hungry. Try small amounts of plain foods, such as soup, rice, pasta and bread.
- Give them paracetamol if they have an uncomfortable fever or aches and pains. Young children may find liquid paracetamol easier to swallow than tablets.
- Use special rehydration drinks made from sachets bought from pharmacies if they’re dehydrated. Your GP or pharmacist can advise on how much to give your child. Don’t give them antidiarrhoeal and anti-vomiting medication, unless advised to by your GP or pharmacist.
Make sure you and your child wash your hands regularly while your child is ill and keep them away from school or nursery until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared .
You May Like: Amy Myers Md Leaky Gut Revive
When To Get Medical Advice
You don’t normally need to see your GP if you think you have gastroenteritis, as it should get better on its own.
Visiting your GP surgery can put others at risk, so it’s best to phone 111 or your GP if you’re concerned or feel you need advice.
Get medical advice if:
- you have symptoms of severe dehydration, such as persistent dizziness, only passing small amounts of urine or no urine at all, or if you’re losing consciousness
- you have bloody diarrhoea
- you’re vomiting constantly and are unable to keep down any fluids
- you have a fever over 38C
- your symptoms haven’t started to improve after a few days
- in the last few weeks you’ve returned from a part of the world with poor sanitation
- you have a serious underlying condition, such as kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease or a weak immune system, and have diarrhoea and vomiting
Your GP may suggest sending off a sample of your poo to a laboratory to check what’s causing your symptoms. Antibiotics may be prescribed if this shows you have a bacterial infection.
For Adults And Older Children
Adults and older children typically experience diminished appetite while sick with stomach flu.
Even if you feel hungry, avoid eating too much too soon. You shouldnt eat solid food at all while youre actively vomiting.
Once you start to feel better and your nausea and vomiting stop, opt for foods that are easy to digest. That can help you avoid additional stomach irritation.
A bland diet, such as the BRAT diet is a good one to follow while you recover. The starchy, low-fiber foods in the BRAT diet, which include bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, help firm up stool and reduce diarrhea.
Choose a low-fiber bread and sugar-free applesauce. As you start to feel better, you can add other easy-to-digest foods such as plain baked potatoes and plain crackers.
While youre recovering, avoid things that might irritate your stomach or that might trigger additional bouts of nausea or diarrhea, including:
- fatty or greasy foods
- hard-to-digest foods, such as beef
Reasons to call the doctor for toddlers and children include:
- distended stomach
- severe, explosive diarrhea
- severe vomiting
- fever that doesnt respond to treatment, lasts more than 24 hours, or is over 103°F
- dehydration or infrequent urination
- blood in vomit or stool
Adults and the elderly should seek medical treatment if their symptoms are severe and last more than three days. Blood in vomit or stool also warrants a doctors care. If youre unable to rehydrate, you should also seek medical help immediately.
Also Check: What Are The Warning Signs Of Pancreatitis
What Are The Symptoms
When it comes to symptoms, they won’t be able to tell you which of these bugs you caught. Even though norovirus and rotavirus cause more severe ones, the symptoms of stomach flu are all very similar:
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal pain or cramping
Less common symptoms include a mild fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness.
However, depending on the type of virus, the order in which symptoms appear may be different. If you’ve been infected with rotavirus, you will probably start vomiting before you have watery diarrhea and fever, according to StatPearls. Norovirus also starts with vomiting and non-bloody diarrhea and can be accompanied by any of the other symptoms.
Whats The Difference Between Stomach Flu Food Poisoning And Seasonal Flu
Stomach flu isnt the same thing as food poisoning, which often occurs within hours of ingesting a contaminated substance. Food poisoning has similar symptoms to stomach flu. Symptoms of food poisoning usually last for one to two days.
Stomach flu isnt the same as seasonal flu, which causes coldlike symptoms that typically last one to two weeks.
Read Also: Vitamins For Liver And Kidney Health
What Is The Incubation Period For Stomach Flu
Many people harbor the virus that causes stomach flu for a time period ranging from 4 hours to 2 days. The difference in the incubation period for stomach flu is mainly dependent on the type of virus that causes it.
1. The Norovirus
- The incubation period for this virus is usually 1 to 3 days, before the symptoms appear.
- The contagious period of the Norovirus ranges from the time the symptoms appear till almost 2 to 3 weeks after the affected person has been cured of stomach flu.
- However, the patient is not contagious during the incubation period of the virus.
2. The Rotavirus
- This virus has an incubation period of 1 to 2 days.
- The patients with this virus are contagious during the incubation period till after 2 weeks of recovery.
- Children are mostly affected by this virus and they may remain contagious for longer periods of time as compared to adults.
3. The Adenovirus
In case of stomach flu caused by adenovirus, the virus stays in the system for usually a week before symptoms first appear. Also, patients are contagious during the incubation period when infected by the adenovirus.
The Incubation Period Of Stomach Flu
To understand the differences in incubation periods for stomach flu, know that there are two viruses that cause stomach flu: norovirus and rotavirus.
NorovirusNorovirus is the most common cause of stomach flu. Most people are contagious from the moment that they become ill. Much of the symptoms start appearing within a day or three days of getting exposed some people are known to be contagious up about two weeks after recovering from the illness. Children affected by norovirus actually stay contagious for longer period than adults.
RotavirusRotavirus mainly affects young children and infants. Symptoms often appear up to two days after being exposed. When they contract the virus, however, theyre contagious from the moment they show symptoms. Most children stay contagious up to two weeks after recovery.
In most cases, these viruses are spread through close contact with the infected. The best way to stop spreading the illness is disinfecting and/or washing your hands.
Read Also: Can You Heal Leaky Gut
Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 Now If:
- you’re worried about a baby under 12 months
- your child stops breast or bottle feeding while they’re ill
- a child under 5 years has signs of dehydration such as fewer wet nappies
- you or your child still have signs of dehydration after using oral rehydration sachets
- you or your child keep being sick and cannot keep fluid down
- you or your child have bloody diarrhoea or bleeding from the bottom
- you or your child have diarrhoea for more than 7 days or vomiting for more than 2 days
111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.
Go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
A GP may be able to help you.
Ask a GP surgery for an urgent appointment.
Check with the GP surgery before going in. A GP may speak to you on the phone.
What To Eat When You Have Food Poisoning Or The Stomach Flu
Whether you have come down with a stomach bug or have food poisoning, here are a few tips to follow.
Losing your appetite is one of the first things that goes with viral gastroenteritis or food poisoning. But, with the loss of fluids and electrolytes, eating and drinking is still crucial when fighting against GI illnesses.
For starters, you can follow the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These foods wont help your symptoms, rather, they are gentle enough to where they wont upset your stomach any further.
Other foods that may be kind to your stomach include cereal , saltine crackers, oatmeal or broth. Saltine crackers are beneficial to provide both calories and salt lost from dehydration. However, you shouldnt eat these foods for more than a day or two, as they lack the nutrients your body needs for energy and for other daily routine tasks.
In terms of liquids, drink plenty of water to help replenish any fluids lost. Sports drinks are a good source of electrolytes, but many versions are loaded with added sugars.
While gentle foods can help provide energy while your body fights the infection, certain foods may actually make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine is a stimulant and can lead to more frequent bowel movements, while foods high in fat can disrupt your GI tract. Even milk can be hard to digest when youre sick due to the presence of lactose and can compound your issues.
You May Like: Does Plexus Work For Gut Health
Prevention Of Viral Gastroenteritis
- Exclude people with viral gastroenteritis from childcare, preschool, school and work until there has been no diarrhoea or vomiting for at least 24 hours. If the gastroenteritis is known or suspected to be caused by norovirus, the exclusion periodis 48 hours.
- If working as a food handler in a food business, the exclusion period should be until there has been no diarrhoea or vomiting for 48 hours.
- Infants, children and adults with viral gastroenteritis should not swim until there has been no diarrhoea for 24 hours.
- Follow good hand washing and keeping areas clean procedures.
- Babies and small children without diarrhoea who are not toilet trained should wear tight fitting waterproof pants or swimming nappies in swimming pools and changed regularly in the change room. When faecal accidents occur, swimming pools should be properly disinfected.
What Is A Stomach Bug
A stomach bug is infective gastroenteritis caused by bacteria, protozoa or viruses. These bugs enter the gut and then inflame the stomach and intestines which results in diarrhea, vomiting and other symptoms. We also refer to this as food poisoning when it arises from consuming contaminated food or water. Most of these bugs cause a diarrheal illness but some may only cause vomiting with little to no diarrhea.
Another term commonly used for gastroenteritis is stomach or tummy flu which refers to viral gastroenteritis. This often occurs in seasonal episodes and can affect a number of people in the same environment but it is not due to the infection with the influenza virus. Several viruses can cause viral gastroenteritis, with rotavirus being one of the most common among children.
Read more on food poisoning vs stomach flu.
Recommended Reading: Food To Help Gut Health
How To Recover From Food Poisoning And The Stomach Flu
The treatment for both food poisoning and the stomach flu is the same: rest and drink plenty of water.
The biggest risk from either of these illnesses is dehydration, says Dr. Ford. When your body is trying to get rid of whats in there, its going to throw out the good with the bad. Its pushing out a lot of fluid along with the toxins that that are making you ill. You have to be super aggressive about replacing them.
Having a fever can also make you dehydrated. When your body temperature goes up, its a reaction to the presence of something thats causing it distress, notes Dr. Ford. And that actually burns more fluid. Sometimes, if youre sweating with a fever, you know youre losing fluid. But at other times, you cant even tell.
When you get dehydrated, youre also losing electrolytes from your body. Electrolytes are minerals found in your body, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium, which help you absorb fluids better.
Replacing electrolytes is also helpful so your body can retain the water that youre trying to drink, says Dr. Ford, who recommends pairing electrolyte-rich drinks such as Pedialyte® or Gatorade® with plenty of H2O.
Both food poisoning and the stomach flu are whats known as self-limited ailments. In other words, youll get better on your own as the conditions run their course.
How Is Viral Gastroenteritis Treated
Specific treatment is usually not needed. In most cases, you simply need to drink plenty of fluids and rest at home until the virus leaves your system. In rare cases, you may need treatment for severe dehydration, with IV fluids.
Helpful home care tips include:
- Drink plenty of light fluids like water, ice chips, fruit juice, and broth. Keep in mind that sports drinks are high in sugar and are not appropriate if you are extremely dehydrated. In this case, you will need an oral rehydration solution.
- Avoid drinks that contain milk, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Once you feel hungry again, start with mild, easy to digest foods.
- Rehydrate children with oral rehydration solutions.
Also Check: Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate By Stage
What Happens After The Incubation Period
You have known the incubation period for stomach flu, but do you know what happens after that period? Once the virus has entered your body, symptoms start appearing after the incubation period. The major symptoms that are seen in stomach flu include severe abdominal cramping that can result in pain, a feeling of nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. Some patients also complain of headaches or fever. A swelling in lymph nodes is noticed in some cases. If you continue vomiting or have diarrhea for a longer duration, it could result in a severe decrease in body fluids level, resulting in dehydration which can prove fatal.
How To Keep Others In Your Household From Getting Sick
Rotavirus and norovirus may live on inanimate surfaces, such as doorknobs, toys and hard surfaces, for quite some time. If someone in your household vomits or has diarrhea due to a stomach bug, clean and disinfect hard surfaces in the area. Put on rubber or disposable gloves, clean up the area, then disinfect the area using a bleach-based household cleaner.
Anyone who is sick should not be in areas where food is being prepared.
Be diligent, and your family will get through this!
Recommended Reading: Best Probiotic For Gut Health
People Likely To Experience Complications
Some people are more at risk of experiencing complications. They include:
- Children less than 2 years old
- People aged 65 years and over
- People with a chronic disease such as diabetes
If you or your child are in these categories of people and show symptoms of gastroenteritis, contact Info-Santé 811. A nurse will evaluate your condition and give you the appropriate recommendations.