Stomach Flu: Symptoms, Treatment, And How To Avoid It

flu symptoms

Last week, the stomach flu hit my family. It came with a vengeance, and all of the kids and I got sick within a couple of days of each other. Somehow, my husband escaped unscathed. After a major cleaning to help kill any of the bug that may still be lingering, I wondered what exactly is the stomach flu and how can we avoid “catching it” again?

What Is The Stomach Flu?

After a little research, I found that the stomach flu isn't a flu at all, it's a virus. It is either the rotavirus, which is common in the winter months, or the adenovirus and echovirus, both of which are more common in the spring and summer months.

What Are Stomach Flu Symptoms?

There isn’t a list of symptoms that needs to be checked off to confirm the stomach flu; your child may experience any or all of the following.

  • Stomach pains (my kids were complaining that their tummies hurt)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • A fever

While vomiting almost always comes with the stomach flu, it isn’t a guarantee that your child will continuously vomit. He may only vomit once and then experience ongoing nausea.

Your child may experience these symptoms for 24 hours or up to five days. And because the stomach flu is so contagious, chances are one or more additional family members may also get it.

Keeping Your Child Hydrated

The main concern with the stomach flu is that vomiting may lead to dehydration, especially in young children.

Make sure to keep your child eating ice chips or sipping on water, broth, watered down juice, or hydrating drinks full of electrolytes like Pedialyte.

You can read here about symptoms of dehydration to understand more about the symptoms and dangers of it.

Feeding Your Child

If your child is vomiting and in the middle of stomach flu torture¸ he won’t want to eat. But sooner or later, you’ll hear “I’m hungry.”

You will have to introduce easy-on-the-tummy foods. Try following the BRAT diet. The BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Plain salted crackers are okay as well.

Give your child just a little bit of any these items and see how he responds. If it comes back up quickly, it’s probably too soon for food. Try some broth instead.

How To Avoid Getting or Spreading The Stomach Flu

Unfortunately, the stomach flu is super contagious and spreads easily…even up to 24 hours after the symptoms have disappeared.

Consistent hand washing is a must, especially after using the bathroom and vomiting. To prevent the stomach flu, hand washing is still important and should be implemented before and after bathroom breaks, playing with toys, eating, and after coming home from being in public.

After having the stomach flu visit your home, you should wash all toys, especially if your kids share them.

Use cleaning wipes (like Lysol) to wipe down door handles, TV remotes, and electronics, and anything else your children touch regularly to prevent the virus from spreading and to kill the already existing virus. 

How do you keep your family healthy and stomach flu-free?

Image via article author Natalie Hoage

 

What do you think?

Stomach Flu: Symptoms, Treatment, And How To Avoid It

Natalie is a wife, mom of a five year old son and three year old twin girls, wannabe foodie, lover of wine and of all things social media. She is the author of Mommy of a Monster and Twins, her personal blog where she writes honestly about the good, bad, and ugly of parenting. In her free time, which she rarely has anymore, she reads, cooks, gardens, works as a freelance writer and social media consultant, and drinks wine…lots of wine. ... More

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16 comments

  1. Profile photo of Kristin Kristin says:

    I am 25 weeks pregnant and I am battling being pregnant and trying to stay healthy with my boyfriend sick with the flu and my roommate as well. Thankfully, I have not caught anything yet, but I have bottles and bottles of hand sanitizer in my bedside table, bathroom, and in common areas such as the kitchen. I am also washing the sheets every other day with bleach, taking vitamin c, and b 12 shots. I already have had morning sickness my whole pregnancy, and the last thing that I want is to be feeling crappy along with the nausea and vomiting!!

  2. Profile photo of Kristin Kristin says:

    I am 25 weeks pregnant and I am battling being pregnant and trying to stay healthy with my boyfriend sick with the flu and my roommate as well. Thankfully, I have not caught anything yet, but I have bottles and bottles of hand sanitizer in my bedside table, bathroom, and in common areas such as the kitchen. I am also washing the sheets every other day with bleach, taking vitamin c, and b 12 shots. I already have had morning sickness my whole pregnancy, and the last thing that I want is to be feeling crappy along with the nausea and vomiting!!!!

  3. Profile photo of Paula Paula says:

    To refer to this as the “flu” is misleading. The flu is influenza, and an intestinal virus is something completely different.

  4. Profile photo of EbyMom EbyMom says:

    The article is interesting and full of information to digest and help save your family.

  5. Profile photo of Liz Liz says:

    this is great info for me because like that I will know what to do

  6. Profile photo of Natalie Natalie says:

    Just want to encourage you moms out there… you can fight the stomach flu! Good precautions to do to help avoid it is taking pro-biotics and kefir regularly! I bought a powder form for my kids –http://www.luckyvitamin.com/buy/products/59100-garden-of-life-raw-probiotics-kids-3-4-oz.html. I also make my own kefir and give it to my kids in a smoothie at least 4 times a week. What works the best for my family is at any sign of a tummy ache I make them Ginger Aide Tea by Traditional Medicals, put a little honey in it or sugar if the baby is a year or less to make it sweeter, it works every time, within 2 hours my kids start feeling better. Continue to drink it all day and also I give Vitamin C to boost the immune system. But thankfully, I have 4 kids ages 6-1 and the flu has not came in over 2 years and trust me we have been around it!

  7. Profile photo of Tara Tara says:

    As soon as possible! And continue for a few days following. I actually have my preschooler drink it daily assuming he is probably exposed a lot! Make sure it is 100 percent purple grape! Not the stuff with added fiber or no sugar! So far so good here this winter! It has also worked in three families I know! One kid came home sick and the rest were spared 🙂

  8. How soon after we’ve been exposed do you think this would work? Thank you for the tip!! It’s certainly worth a try!

  9. Tara! What a great tip to at least give a shot! I, like all of you am paranoid that this will hit my family this year.( with my hubby away in the military) I worry, if one of my 2 kids gets it, I will and to care for them while sick will be difficult. But Tara, 3 glasses of welch’s grape juice (8 oz I assume) how soon after we could have been exposed? Thank you all for all the great tips!! I have them written down! 🙂 stay healthy

  10. Profile photo of Phallen Phallen says:

    When cleaning your house and toys be aware that not all cleaners kill all viruses. a concetrated bleach solutions is the only thing that kills the Norovirus, NOT Lysol. Granted anything is better than nothing but…. ALso, hand hygiene with soap and water will kill the Norovirus, NOT Alcohol or non alcohol based hand sanitizers. Norovirus is the bug causing all the havoic this year…. And I agree it is NOT a flu. Infuenza is a compleatly different disease process in its self. Thus the flue shot can not cause the stomach virus as I hear so many times a day… Stay healthy!!!

  11. I wish we could stop calling this the "stomach flu". Flu is influenza…which is different than a gastrointestinal virus. This was probably the Norovirus which is crossing the country at the same time as the current influenza strain. And it’s a nasty couple of days!

  12. Profile photo of Tara Tara says:

    I am a complete crazy person when it comes to this virus!! Three glasses of Welch grape juice keeps the virus away after you’ve been exposed! I swear by it! Changes the acidity of your intestines so the virus can’t take hold. Also, most wipes do not kill this virus just an FYI!

  13. Profile photo of RobinFarr RobinFarr says:

    I swear I live in fear of this happening in our family. It’s been a while since we were all sick like that. *knock wood*

  14. Profile photo of Galit BreenAuthor Galit Breen says:

    Oh, I hope everyone’s completely better! Thanks so much for these important tips!

  15. How do dad’s always escape the wrath? I wash my hands so much my fingers crack in the winter, yet I always get it too!

  16. Profile photo of Alison LeeAuthor Alison Lee says:

    So sorry to hear that you were hit with the virus.
    Thank you for the tips, very helpful, though I hope I won’t have to deal with this any time soon. 🙂

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