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Stomach Bug - Causes, Symptoms, And Prevention Strategies

Gastroenteritis, commonly known as a stomach bug or stomach flu, is typically contracted through contact with an infected person or by consuming contaminated food or water. While the infection often resolves on its own, there are various home remedies available to alleviate symptoms.

Author:Suleman Shah
Reviewer:Han Ju
Jul 13, 20235.4K Shares132.6K Views
Gastroenteritis, commonly known as a stomach bugor stomach flu, is typically contracted through contact with an infected person or by consuming contaminated food or water. While the infection often resolves on its own, there are various home remedies available to alleviate symptoms.
In the United States, many individuals recover from stomach flu within a few days without experiencing any complications. However, for those in high-risk categories or with limited access to healthcare facilities, it can become a severe condition and a leading cause of mortality.
This article explores the symptoms and causes of stomach flu in both adults and children, its contagious nature, recommended treatment methods, home remedies for alleviating symptoms, and preventive measures.

What Is Stomach Bug?

Viral gastroenteritis, commonly referred to as stomach flu, is a viral infection that affects the stomach and intestines. The term "gastro" pertains to the stomach, while "enter" refers to the small intestine. The suffix "-itis" indicates inflammation, often caused by an infection. In the case of viral gastroenteritis, the infection is caused by a virus.
Stomach flu manifests with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea. It is often colloquially referred to as a stomach bug. While a stomach bug can be caused by various factors like bacteria or parasites, the symptoms are generally similar. Distinguishing whether the bug is caused by a virus or another pathogen may not always be possible.

Mayo Clinic Minute: What is 'stomach flu?'

Symptoms Of Stomach Bug

Gastroenteritis typically presents with primary symptoms of watery diarrhea and vomiting. Additionally, individuals may experience stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and headaches.
The occurrence of diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration. It is important to be vigilant for signs of dehydration, such as dry skin, dry mouth, lightheadedness, and excessive thirst. If any of these symptoms are observed, it is advisable to contact a doctor.

Stomach Bug And Children

Children are particularly susceptible to dehydration when they have the stomach flu, so it is crucial to monitor for signs of excessive thirst, dry skin, or a dry mouth. In the case of infants, pay attention to fewer and drier diapers as an indication of dehydration.
It is important to keep children who have gastroenteritis out of day care or school until all symptoms have resolved. Prior to administering any medication to your child, consult with a doctor, as drugs used to manage diarrhea and vomiting are generally not recommended for children under the age of 5.
For the prevention of rotavirus, the most common cause of stomach flu in children, there are two available vaccines that can be given to infants. It is advisable to discuss these vaccines with your doctor for further information and guidance.

Causes Of Stomach Bug

Viral infections, such as norovirus, adenovirus, and rotavirus, are the most common causes of gastroenteritis, while bacterial infections are typically associated with cases of food poisoning. The transmission of gastroenteritis usually occurs through close contact with an infected individual or by consuming contaminated food or water.
Distinguishing between viral and bacterial gastroenteritis can be challenging. However, bacterial infections often exhibit symptoms like bloody diarrhea or diarrhea accompanied by mucus. If bacterial gastroenteritis is suspected, a doctor may request a stool sample for further evaluation.

Stages Of Stomach Bug

The progression of a stomach flu infection typically involves the following stages:
  • Exposure:The stomach flu is commonly transmitted within communities, particularly in enclosed environments like schools, nursing homes, or cruise ships. Often, you may learn about an outbreak after being exposed to the virus, as symptoms take time to develop.
  • Incubation:Once you have contracted the virus, it enters your body and begins replicating. This period is known as the incubation period. Symptoms do not appear until the virus has replicated enough to trigger an immune response, which usually takes a few days, varying depending on the specific virus.
  • Acute infection:Viral gastroenteritis is characterized as an acute infection, meaning it is sudden and short-lived. When your immune system recognizes the presence of the virus, it activates an inflammatory response to eliminate it. This immune response is responsible for the onset of symptoms. As your immune system successfully combats the virus, the symptoms will gradually diminish.
  • Recovery:As your immune system effectively fights off the virus, you will begin to experience a reduction in symptoms. Eventually, the symptoms will cease, and you will start to feel better. However, it is important to note that you may continue to excrete the virus in your stool for a few days, indicating ongoing contagiousness.

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The Lasting Period Of Stomach Bug

The duration of stomach flu can vary, ranging from a few days to up to two weeks, depending on the specific virus responsible for the infection.
The onset of symptoms and the duration of each type of stomach flu vary as follows:
  • Norovirus:Symptoms typically appear 12-48 hours after contact and last for 1-3 days.
  • Rotavirus:Symptoms usually begin 48 hours after contact and persist for 3-8 days.
  • Adenovirus:Symptoms generally start 3-10 days after contact and can last for 1-2 weeks.
  • Astrovirus:Symptoms typically emerge 4-5 days after contact and usually endure for 1-4 days.
Norovirus is highly contagious, particularly when an individual is experiencing symptoms or in the first few days after recovery. However, the virus can continue to spread for more than two weeks after symptom resolution.
Norovirus can affect individuals of any age group. Rotavirus, adenovirus, and astrovirus are more commonly observed in children and infants, although adults can also contract these viruses.
It is important to note that the specific duration and severity of stomach flu symptoms can vary from person to person, and it is always advisable to seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

Treatments For Stomach Bug

There is no specific cure for stomach flu as it is typically caused by a viral infection. Antibiotics are not prescribed by doctors since they are ineffective against viruses.
However, certain medications can help manage the symptoms associated with stomach flu:
  • Ibuprofen:It can be used to alleviate fever and body aches. However, caution should be exercised as it may potentially upset the stomach and put additional strain on dehydrated kidneys.
  • Acetaminophen:This is a commonly used option with fewer side effects compared to ibuprofen. It is important to note that acetaminophen carries a risk of liver damage and should be used as directed.
  • Antiemetics:These medications can help relieve nausea. Promethazine, ondansetron, metoclopramide, or prochlorperazine may be prescribed by doctors for this purpose.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) antidiarrheals:Subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and loperamide hydrochloride (Imodium) are examples of OTC medications that can help control diarrhea. Parents should consult a doctor before giving these medications to children, as they can be harmful to children of certain ages.
It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate guidance and to discuss any potential risks or side effects associated with these medications.

Remedies For Children

If an infant exhibits symptoms of stomach flu for more than 1-2 days and shows signs of dehydration, it is crucial for parents to consult a doctor promptly as it can have severe effects on their health.
Signs of mild to severe dehydration in infants include:
  • Decreased urination
  • Darker urine
  • Reduced tears when crying
  • Dry lips and mouth
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Sunken soft spots on the head
Parents should encourage their child to take sips of fluids to prevent dehydration. Suitable options for keeping infants hydrated include:
  • Water
  • Oral and intravenous rehydration solutions
  • Milk, including breast milk
  • Juice
  • Once tolerated, their regular diet
Doctors do not recommend giving electrolyte solutions to infants due to their high content of artificial ingredients, which may not be optimal for maintaining proper hydration. Instead, oral rehydration solutions made of sugar and sodium can be used as an alternative, administered to children using a syringe, spoon, or cup. It is important to follow the advice and guidance of a healthcare professional when addressing dehydration in infants.

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Home Remedies For Stomach Bug

Home remedies can effectively manage symptoms and provide relief for stomach flu. Here are some recommended approaches:
  • Stay hydrated:It's important to replenish fluids lost through diarrhea, vomiting, and sweating. Drink clear soda, diluted fruit juices, caffeine-free sports drinks, or electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte. Slow sips and snacking on ice chips can help maintain hydration. Avoid coffeeand alcohol, as they can aggravate symptoms and contribute to dehydration.
  • Diet:Start with fluids and gradually transition to soups and broths before introducing small meals. Following a bland diet is advisable, including foods like rice, pasta, and eggs. Avoid excessive fiber, tomato-based, fatty, and spicy dishes, as they can worsen diarrhea.
  • Rest:Allow your body to rest and recover. Sufficient rest supports the immune systemand aids in cell repair.
  • Ginger and peppermint:Ginger helps reduce inflammation, aids digestion, and relieves nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and bloating. It can be consumed as ginger tea, capsules, ginger ale, or by chewing ginger. Peppermint, particularly in tea form, may also soothe an upset stomach, gas, and bloating.
  • Acupressure:Applying pressure to specific points on the body, such as the soft area between two tendons on the bottom of the palm, may help reduce nausea.
  • Chamomile and other herbal teas:Chamomile tea relaxes muscles, has anti-inflammatory properties, and can alleviate diarrhea, stomach cramping, bloating, nausea, and gas. Rosemary, red, and fennel teas are also believed to aid digestion and possess anti-inflammatory properties.
If home remedies do not provide sufficient relief, it is recommended to consult with a doctor for further guidance and professional medical advice.

People Also Ask

How Can A Stomach Bug Be Cured?

In most cases, people with viral gastroenteritis get better on their own without medical treatment. You can treat viral gastroenteritis by replacing lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. In some cases, over-the-counter medicines may help relieve your symptoms.

How Long Does A Stomach Bug Last?

Stomach bugs, also called gastroenteritis, are very common in young children and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes a fever. Gastroenteritis typically lasts in the neighborhood of three to seven days, but sometimes it can be shorter and, unfortunately, sometimes it lasts longer.

What Happens To Your Body When You Have A Stomach Bug?

Viral gastroenteritis is an infection of your intestines that typically causes watery diarrhea, pain or cramping in your abdomen, nausea or vomiting, and sometimes fever. Viral gastroenteritis is caused by viruses link. Viruses invade normal cells in your body.

Conclusion

Stomach bug or stomach flu, caused by various viruses, is a common occurrence, and it is possible to experience it multiple times throughout life. Individuals in daycare centers, schools, and care facilities are at a higher risk of contracting the virus from their communities, and they may experience more severe symptoms.
While stomach bug is typically a short-lived and unpleasant experience for most people, it can be potentially dangerous for certain individuals. If you are caring for a child or an older person with stomach bug, it is important to remain vigilant for signs of dehydration and maintain regular communication with a healthcare provider. Taking necessary precautions to protect oneself from the virus and prevent its spread to othersis essential.
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Suleman Shah

Suleman Shah

Author
Suleman Shah is a researcher and freelance writer. As a researcher, he has worked with MNS University of Agriculture, Multan (Pakistan) and Texas A & M University (USA). He regularly writes science articles and blogs for science news website immersse.com and open access publishers OA Publishing London and Scientific Times. He loves to keep himself updated on scientific developments and convert these developments into everyday language to update the readers about the developments in the scientific era. His primary research focus is Plant sciences, and he contributed to this field by publishing his research in scientific journals and presenting his work at many Conferences. Shah graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan) and started his professional carrier with Jaffer Agro Services and later with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Pakistan. His research interest compelled and attracted him to proceed with his carrier in Plant sciences research. So, he started his Ph.D. in Soil Science at MNS University of Agriculture Multan (Pakistan). Later, he started working as a visiting scholar with Texas A&M University (USA). Shah’s experience with big Open Excess publishers like Springers, Frontiers, MDPI, etc., testified to his belief in Open Access as a barrier-removing mechanism between researchers and the readers of their research. Shah believes that Open Access is revolutionizing the publication process and benefitting research in all fields.
Han Ju

Han Ju

Reviewer
Hello! I'm Han Ju, the heart behind World Wide Journals. My life is a unique tapestry woven from the threads of news, spirituality, and science, enriched by melodies from my guitar. Raised amidst tales of the ancient and the arcane, I developed a keen eye for the stories that truly matter. Through my work, I seek to bridge the seen with the unseen, marrying the rigor of science with the depth of spirituality. Each article at World Wide Journals is a piece of this ongoing quest, blending analysis with personal reflection. Whether exploring quantum frontiers or strumming chords under the stars, my aim is to inspire and provoke thought, inviting you into a world where every discovery is a note in the grand symphony of existence. Welcome aboard this journey of insight and exploration, where curiosity leads and music guides.
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