How Can I Get Rid Of Stomach Flu
The most important things you can do to feel better faster are rest and staying well hydrated. Between diarrhea and vomiting, your body loses a lot of water and electrolytes. If your belly is still upset, you can take small, frequent sips of water, sports drinks, juice or broth, or chew on ice chips. It is important to know that water alone may not be enough to keep you hydrated in severe cases of diarrhea so make sure to take in electrolyte balance hydration . Eat a normal diet when you feel hungry again.
What Causes Food Poisoning
When it comes to viruses, norovirus is the most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It typically hangs out in items like raw, ready-to-eat produce shellfish and contaminated water.
On the bacterial side, you have salmonella, listeria, shigella, campylobacter,E. coli, and more that can make you sick, according to the Mayo Clinic. These can show up in anything from hot dogs, milk, egg yolks, alfalfa sprouts, meat, poultry, and beyond.
Food contamination can happen at any point, whether its through soil as its grown, in a storage facility, or on your countertop when you leave food out for too long, the CDC says. You may also get food poisoning if someone with one of these illness-causing microorganisms in their system handles your food or utensils.
Are The Stomach Flu And Food Poisoning The Same Condition
- Stomach flu or gastroenteritis means any nonspecific inflammatory problem in the gastrointestinal tract some doctors consider the stomach flu to be more narrowly defined as a viral infection that attacks the digestive system.
- Food poisoning specifically is caused by eating or drinking contaminated food or fluid that contains bacteria, viruses, parasites and/or their toxins they produce.
Consequently, there is some crossover between the two terms.
- Food poisoning usually is found in small outbreaks that occur among individuals that have ingested the same foods or drink, and symptoms occur rapidly within hours whereas the stomach flu has a more gradual onset of symptoms and usually lasts longer than food poisoning.
- Stomach flu is highly contagious and can be spread quickly to other individuals whereas food poisoning usually requires ingesting the poison and does not easily spread to other individuals.
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What To Do If You Have Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, or nausea can have many causes other than COVID-19. Experiencing any of these symptoms doesnât mean you have COVID-19, but they may be early warning signs.
You can treat the digestive symptoms of COVID-19 at home by staying hydrated, avoiding foods that upset your stomach, and getting as much rest as possible.
Use A Vaporizer Or Humidifier
Dry air can make flu symptoms worse. When a flu virus enters your respiratory tract, it gets caught in mucus, which helps prevent infection from spreading. However, when the air is cold and dry, mucus dries up in your airways, making it more difficult for your body to fight the virus.
Maintaining a relative humidity between 40% and 60% in your home can reduce the spread of transmission and relieve respiratory symptoms, such as cough and nasal congestion. It can also help fast-track your healing by reducing pain and inflammation in your throat and helping you sleep better.
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What Is Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is an infection or irritation of your digestive tract that you get from having food and drinks that contain illness-inducing pathogens, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .
This means your body is rebelling against viruses, bacteria, or other harmful substances in something you ate, Benjamin Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor and food-safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University, tells SELF. These pathogens can lurk in a wide variety of foods, but you may also come down with food poisoning after reheating old food or drinking or eating something that has expired .
Food poisoning isnt a rare thingabout 48 million people in the U.S. have food poisoning each year, per the NIDDK. The illness is usually acute , and most people get better on their own without treatment.
Is The Stomach Flu Worse In Some People
In general, most people recover quickly from the stomach flu. Symptoms can be worse in babies, young children, older adults or anyone of any age that is immune-compromised. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration within just a short period of time, depending on the circumstances. Signs of dehydration include:
- Extreme thirst.
- General weakness.
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What Causes The Stomach Flu
Bacteria and viruses — infectious agents — are the most frequent causes of gastroenteritis in the U.S. and worldwide. Infections cause diarrhea and other symptoms by causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tissue. The infections increase the fluid content in the intestines and colon by changing the gastrointestinal tract’s ability to absorb water and by increasing the speed of transit for things you ingest. This, in turn, causes diarrhea. Infectious agents may physically damage intestinal cells directly or indirectly with secreted toxins.
Ease Aches With A Massage
Though receiving a massage won’t likely cure your flu overnight, it can indirectly help you recover faster. In addition to alleviating body aches, massage therapy can reduce levels of cortisol. This is the stress hormone that weakens your immunity by impairing certain infection-fighting white blood cells.
Many massage therapists do not treat people when they are sick. So consider asking a friend or family member to lend a hand . And give them a germ-protecting face mask for their trouble. Massaging with topical relief creams may further improve blood flow and ease your body aches.
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Treatments For The Stomach Flu
As with the flu, many people with the stomach flu recover on their own. It is very important to stay hydrated, as the body can lose a lot of water and electrolytes during this time from throwing up, diarrhea, and fever. If you have the stomach flu:
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Infants can try bottle feeding with regular formula or rehydration drinks placed in bottles, usually taking in smaller amounts with more periods of rest in between sips. If an infant is breastfed, its ok to try to continue to breastfeed.
- Dont worry if you don’t feel like eating much. If you do eat, have foods that are gentler for your digestion, like bananas, crackers, rice, and toast.
- Avoid eating foods that can increase irritation in your digestive tract like spicy foods, very sugary foods, alcohol, caffeine, milk, or fatty foods.
When Is Diarrhea Contagiousand What Causes It
Let’s dial it back a bit here: Infectious diarrhea specifically is caused by one of three things: bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Though the words “contagious” and “infectious” may often be used interchangeably, they’re not exactly the same thing. Contagious diseases are spread by contact , while infectious diseases are spread by infectious agents. That means, while diseases that are contagious are also infectious, not all infectious agents are necessarily contagious.
Viruses specifically are the most common cause of diarrhea that can be passed between people . According to MedlinePlus and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , the most common viruses that can cause diarrhea include:
Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list of viral causes of diarrhea. According to the Mayo Clinic, adenoviruses, astrovirus, cytomegalovirus, and viral hepatitis are also known causes of diarrhea. Norovirus in particular is notorious for contagious diarrheaspecifically on cruise ships , says Lisa Ganjhu, DO, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone.
Bacteria, too, can cause diarrhea. While many types of bacteria that cause infectious diarrhea stem from ingesting contaminated food, it is possible for people infected with the bacteria to spread it to others. According to the NIDDK, the most common types of bacteria that can cause diarrhea include:
- Cryptosporidium enteritis
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Can A Cold Cause Diarrhea In Toddlers And Babies
According to a 2016 research review , rotavirus infections are the most common viral causes of diarrhea and vomiting in children. The rotavirus doesnt fall into the category of viruses considered cold viruses. In children and adults, a rotavirus infection is often referred to as the stomach flu.
The adenovirus and rhinovirus are two types of cold viruses that can potentially cause diarrhea in children.
The same research review above showed that adenoviruses are responsible for about 1.5 to 5.4 percent of diarrhea cases in children under 2 years old.
In a 2016 study, researchers examined the symptoms of respiratory infections in a group of 993 children under 2 years old. The researchers found that in 9.6 percent of cases, vomiting or diarrhea were the symptoms of children that developed the rhinovirus infection.
Diarrhea cant directly cause a cold, but it may weaken your immune system and make you more prone to infection.
According to a 2017 research review, its estimated that about of all the lymphocytes in your body are in your digestive tract. Lymphocytes are specialized white blood cells that help you fight infections.
A 2016 research review showed that your digestive system also hosts more than 1,000 types of bacteria. Many of these bacteria play an important role in your bodys immune system.
Having diarrhea may potentially disrupt levels of bacteria in your gut and put you at risk of developing infections.
Diarrhea can be caused by the following infection types:
Is It Possible To Have Diarrhea With No Fever
Some people may experience diarrhea without other flu-like symptoms, like a fever. Diarrhea can be the first symptom of COVID-19.
In some cases, flu symptoms may come on after diarrhea. Some people may only experience gastrointestinal symptoms without developing any of the more common symptoms.
Research suggests that the virus that causes COVID-19 can enter your digestive system through cell surface receptors for an enzyme called angiotensin converting enzyme 2 . Receptors for this enzyme are 100 times more common in the gastrointestinal tract than the respiratory tract.
increased risk of developing some types of viral infections.
However, research hasnât yet found that people with IBD are more likely to develop COVID-19 than people without IBD.
New information about COVID-19 is emerging rapidly. As researchers collect more data, itâs possible that research will find that having IBD does increase your risk for developing COVID-19.
According to at an IBD center in Milan, people with IBD should take extra precautions to avoid the virus. These include:
- frequent handwashing
- covering your face when coughing and sneezing
- avoiding people with flu-like symptoms
- staying at home when possible
If you have IBD and have tested positive for COVID-19, speak to your doctor about whether you should stop taking certain medications.
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Diarrhea And Other Gastrointestinal Symptoms Of Covid
Some people with COVID-19 develop gastrointestinal symptoms either alone or with respiratory symptoms.
Recently, researchers at Stanford University found that a third of patients they studied with a mild case of COVID-19 had symptoms affecting the digestive system.
Another published by researchers in Beijing found that anywhere from 3 to 79 percent of people with COVID-19 develop gastrointestinal symptoms.
How Long Does Flu Last And Is It Serious
If you have flu, you generally start to feel ill within a few days of being infected.
You should begin to feel much better within a week or so, although you may feel tired for much longer.
You’ll usually be most infectious from the day your symptoms start and for a further 3 to 7 days. Children and people with weaker immune systems may remain infectious for longer.
Most people will make a full recovery and won’t experience any further problems, but elderly people and people with certain long-term medical conditions are more likely to have a bad case of flu or develop a serious complication, such as a chest infection.
Read more about the complications of flu
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Types And Symptoms Of Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is mainly of two types, viral and bacterial. Viral gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by one of the viruses, while bacterial gastroenteritis, also referred to as “food poisoning”, is the infection in the gut due to bacteria, which leads to inflammation in stomach and intestines and mainly occurs due to poor hygiene, consuming food and water contaminated with bacteria. Viral gastroenteritis spreads through improper hand washing, contaminated water or by consuming raw/undercooked shellfish from contaminated waters. Infants and children below 5 years, senior citizens living in care homes and individuals with highly compromised immune systems are at higher risk of contracting this virus.
The symptoms of stomach flu can vary depending on the cause and the main symptom of viral gastroenteritis is diarrhoea followed by nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and mild fever. Although the symptoms for viral and bacterial gastroenteritis are the same, in some cases of bacterial gastroenteritis bloody diarrhoea is seen, also known as haemorrhagic gastroenteritis.
Some of the symptoms seen in stomach flu are due to other causes such as food allergies, as well as side effects from medicines and drugs.
When To Contact A Doctor
Blood or mucus may appear in the stool in more serious cases of diarrhea, which can also involve fever. Anyone with these symptoms should speak with a doctor as soon as possible.
Untreated diarrhea can also lead to serious complications, including dehydration. A person with severe diarrhea may require hospitalization and intravenous electrolytes.
Anyone experiencing a fever higher than 102°F or severe abdominal pains should speak with a doctor.
Parents or caregivers should carefully monitor any children with diarrhea. If the symptoms do not clear up within 24 hours, they should call a doctor for guidance.
If a child shows any signs of dehydration, it is essential to seek immediate medical care. The signs
- dry diaper for 3 hours or more
- weight loss
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How Can Diarrhea Be Prevented
Prevention of diarrhea depends on the underlying cause. If medications are causing a person to experience diarrhea, an alternative form or type of medication should be explored, especially when diarrhea is chronic. Some people who are malnourished or on bowel rest, may experience diarrhea for the first few days when starting to eat again because the bowel walls ability to function decreases when it is not used and resumes normal function slowly. Consult your physician to determine the underlying cause and treatment for your diarrhea, especially if there is any associated pain, blood, or distension.
What Other Guidelines Should I Follow
- Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink more liquids than usual to prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to drink an oral rehydration solution . An ORS helps replace fluids and electrolytes that you lose when you have diarrhea.
- Eat small meals or snacks every 3 to 4 hours instead of large meals. Continue eating even if you still have diarrhea. Your diarrhea will continue for a few days but should gradually go away.
Are There Home Remedies To Help Me
While the last thing you probably want to do when you have diarrhoea is to eat and drink, remember that severe diarrhoea can cause you to become very weak and dehydrated. It is important to drink plenty of water as you are losing a lot of fluid through bouts of diarrhoea.
Even if you have very little appetite during the first couple of days, try to eat a little dry bread or toast, to keep your blood sugar levels up. Some plain yoghurt should not aggravate your condition, and may even reduce symptoms of diarrhoea. It is important not eat sugary foods, fatty foods, or those which will aggravate an already sensitive digestive system.
Give yourself plenty of rest, as diarrhoea can cause you to feel weak. Exerting yourself while you are suffering from flu and diarrhoea will slow down your recovery.
How Is The Flu Diagnosed
Based on your symptoms and how you look, your doctor usually can tell if you have the flu. Most people who have it look ill and miserable.
Other infections can cause symptoms similar to the flu. So if a doctor needs to be sure that someone has the flu, they might do a test. They’ll take a sample of mucus by wiping a long cotton swab inside the nose or throat. Results might be ready quickly, or can take longer if the test is sent to a lab.
You may feel miserable if you get the flu, but it’s unlikely to be serious. It’s rare that healthy teens get other problems from the flu. Older adults , young kids , and people with ongoing medical conditions are more likely to become seriously ill with the flu.
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How Can Stomach Flu Be Prevented
Since stomach flu can be caused by multiple factors, getting the flu vaccination alone isnt enough to protect you from gastroenteritis. Children should follow the standard vaccination schedule and get the rotavirus vaccination when indicated. This vaccination can protect your child from getting sick from the rotovirus but not all children can receive this oral vaccination, so please check with your pediatrician before doing so.
You can take other steps to reduce your risk of getting stomach flu:
Practice good handwashing
When youre sick, the virus spreads from anything that comes in contact with virus-infected feces. Good handwashing is vital in stopping the spread. Viruses left on hands can easily spread to surfaces, food and people you touch. Its important to wash your hands well after you go to the bathroom, change a diaper, touch any bathroom surfaces and before you handle food.
Be careful with food
You can catch stomach flu from contaminated food or water, or pass it on to someone else. To keep viruses out of your food:
Clean sick areas
Clean anything that you may have touched while you were sick with stomach flu. Wash laundry with hot water and dry with high heat. Be sure to use a disinfectant to clean areas where a sick person vomited or had diarrhea.