UGH, well it’s official at our house Stomach Flu has arrived:( It’s got to be on the top of most hated things by parents. So, since I am a mom and a nurse, I thought what a great time to share some accurate information on stomach flu!
One thing I get frustrated with is how many people don’t know the difference between stomach flu (Viral Gastroenteritis) and Influenza A or B (also called seasonal flu). You can get a flu vaccine to help protect you against seasonal flu (Influenza A or B), which affects your respiratory system primarily, but there is no vaccine available to protect again Stomach Flu (Vomiting/Diarrhea) in school age children or adults.
So, what is Stomach Flu, well the medical name is viral gastroenteritis, which means it is a viral infection that causes symptoms with your gastrointestinal system. The main symptoms associated with stomach flu are: loose or watery stools, stomach pain, nausea/vomiting, and fever. According to Mayoclinic.com symptoms usually present within 1-3 days of being exposed and generally last a day or two but can last up to 10 days. Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and many times you may not need to see a physician, however you should see the doctor if any of the following occur:
- Not able to keep fluids down for more than 24 hrs
- Vomiting for > 2 days
- Signs of dehydration (dark urine, dry mouth, little amount of urine, weakness, etc)
- Blood in your stools
- High fevers Now if you have an infant or children you should also watch for:
- high fevers
How do you treat stomach flu, well first you should let the stomach settle and increase diet after vomiting slowly as tolerated. Avoiding certain foods such as dairy may also help until you feel better. Otherwise REST REST REST, Rehydrate, and treat fever if needed.
Now, if you are like my family we have 5 people here and nobody wants the whole house to come down with stomach flu! I think almost all families will agree we are way too busy for that! So PREVENTION is an important part as well! First off, hand washing-very important always but especially with gastrointestinal bugs because they have the ability to live longer on surfaces in your environment. Other important prevention techniques to remember are:
- Avoid close contact. At our house we divide, and the sick patient gets there own bathroom until better.
- Disinfect surfaces-I personally love Clorox Wipes and Lysol spray. Don’t forget those germs can lurk anywhere-so do the doorknobs, light switches, tv remotes, etc.
So, by no means am I an expert on this or anything really, but I think education is a must! Check out a full article on Stomach Flu here from Mayo Clinic. I have referenced the article throughout my post here. Wishing you a healthy fall season!