Stomach Flu Treatments & Medications

Stomach Flu Treatments and Medications

medically reviewed by Jesse P. Houghton, MD, FACG What precisely is abdomen influenza ? A bewildering assortment of digestive organization problems are all called “ digest influenza ” or “ stomach hemipterous insect ” —intestinal infections, parasites, food allergies, food poison. however, when it comes to stomach influenza outbreaks, the wrongdoer is largely normally a virus, referred to as viral gastroenteritis .

What is the stomach flu?

viral gastroenteritis ( “ stomach influenza ” or “ digest bug ” ) is a viral contagion of the stomach and intestines that causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and abdominal cramp. While most cases resolve in a few days without serious problems, viral gastroenteritis can be a dangerous and flush dangerous infection in very young children, seniors, or people with immune system problems.

several different viruses can cause stomach influenza, but nine in ten cases are caused by norovirus. Rotavirus is normally the perpetrator when young children come down with stomach influenza, but rotavirus vaccines have drastically reduced the incidence in the United States. other viruses such as adenovirus ( the cold virus ), astrovirus, and sapovirus are responsible for a small number of cases, chiefly among infants and children. The influenza virus, however, never causes stomach influenza, so a influenza shoot does not help prevent stomach influenza. Bacteria can besides cause gastroenteritis, most normally Shigella, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli. discussion and medications for bacterial gastroenteritis are covered more amply in their own articles. Viral gastroenteritis frequently occurs in outbreaks. close communities such as long-run worry facilities, daycare centers, schools, prisons, and cruise ships are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks. Gastroenteritis viruses spread from person-to-person chiefly through what is called the fecal-oral route. This occurs when microscopic faecal contaminants are incidentally ingested. Contaminated food is the most common causal agent of infection, particularly food that is served raw, washed in contaminated water, or handled after being cooked. however, people can pick up infect faecal material from one-on-one liaison, clothes, furniture, utensil, or even floating in the breeze. Norovirus is a particularly contagious, ruffianly, and durable virus. It can survive extreme point heat, freezing cold, withstand many disinfectants, and survive on surfaces for up to two weeks. For this reason, norovirus is responsible for over half of all foodborne outbreaks. About 21 million people in the United States get sick and about 800 people die from norovirus infection each year. An extra 3 million cases of viral gastroenteritis—almost all infants or very young children—are caused by rotavirus. Most adults and older children, however, are immune to rotavirus. Anyone can catch stomach influenza, but infants, new children, seniors, and people with compromise immune systems are at a higher risk for infection. other risk factors include eating out frequently, attending a daycare focus on or school, living in a nurse home, or staying in cruise ships, hotels, or other partly-closed communities. Poor hand washing habits besides increase the likelihood of a gastrointestinal viral contagion. Most cases of viral gastroenteritis typically resolve in a few days. treatment consists chiefly of supportive caution. dehydration is the most serious complication, so supportive care chiefly focuses on maintaining sufficient hydration. Medications can help with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. however, infants, the aged, and people with compromise immune systems may require hospitalization .

How is the stomach flu diagnosed?

Stomach influenza is primarily diagnosed through a forcible examination and a affected role aesculapian history. Most cases will be diagnosed and treated by a general practitioner. Symptoms are the best template for diagnosis. The defining symptom of stomach influenza is unaffixed or watery diarrhea, but other symptoms might include .

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Low-grade fever

Loss of appetite, involuntary weight loss, and bloat might besides be experienced. Symptoms of gastroenteritis normally start on the spur of the moment ( or ‘ acutely ’, hence the term ‘ acute gastroenteritis ’ ), coming on in one or two hours. In summation to how cursorily symptoms started, a healthcare provider will want to know :

  • How long have you had symptoms?
  • Do other people you know have similar complaints?
  • Did you eat anything unusual recently, such as raw foods?
  • Did you travel recently, especially outside the country?

A physical examination will help the healthcare professional principle out other conditions. The healthcare supplier will carefully look for signs of dehydration, such as bury eyes, flabbiness, dry mucous membranes ( inside the mouthpiece ), at large skin, or sleepiness. rake or stool tests are not necessary to diagnose a viral gastroenteritis, but a healthcare provider will use them to rule out other causes, such as a bacterial infection, leech infection, or other intestinal problems. Blood or urine tests may be necessary if there are signs of dehydration .

Stomach flu treatment options

Most cases of viral gastroenteritis resolve on their own, typically in one to three days, depending on the virus. treatment of viral gastroenteritis focuses wholly on cope symptoms, particularly dehydration. Bacterial gastroenteritis, the subject of other articles, is treated with both antibiotics and symptom patronize .

Supportive care

The primary focus of supportive care is to maintain hydration and electrolytes. Drinking fluids or using over-the-counter oral rehydration solutions ( internet explorer, Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade ) are the principal treatments. IV fluids and hospitalization may be required for more hard dehydration .


over-the-counter or prescription medications can provide symptom relief for nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Antibiotics competitiveness bacteria ( not viruses ), thus while they are effective against bacterial gastroenteritis, they are not effective against the viruses that cause digest influenza .

Stomach flu medicine

Viral gastroenteritis typically resolves in a few days without aesculapian intervention. over-the-counter medications can help manage digest influenza symptoms such as dehydration, nausea, vomit, and diarrhea. dangerous cases, though, may require more mighty prescription medications to prevent serious dehydration .

Oral rehydration solutions

oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte, Hydralite, or Ensure Rapid Hydration, replace fluids and electrolytes lost to vomiting or diarrhea. The electrolytes in many commercially-available oral rehydration solutions are balanced to ensure the most effective fluid assimilation. While commercially-available oral rehydration solutions are better than sports drinks, a combination of ice and water is normally sufficient for handling balmy gastroenteritis .


Antiemetics ( anti-nausea medications agents ) reduce nausea and vomit by slowing down the part of the brain creditworthy for nausea and the vomit reflex. For mild gastroenteritis, over-the-counter antiemetics such as dimenhydrinate or meclizine are normally sufficient to keep nausea and vomit in check. If severe dehydration is a trouble, a doctor of the church or emergency room doctor may use a more potent prescription drug antiemetic such as ondansetron, metoclopramide ( reduces nausea and vomit by making the stomach narrow ), or prochlorperazine. These drugs may initially be administered intravenously.

Antidiarrheal agents

As a general rule, people with mild gastroenteritis who can stay hydrated shouldn ’ t take antidiarrheal drugs. If dehydration or hard diarrhea is an issue, however, over-the-counter antidiarrheal agents can help. Antimotility agents such as loperamide, work by slowing down the colon. Bismuth salts ( bismuth subsalicylate ) coat the intestinal tissues and prevent urine and electrolytes from being secreted into the stools. Both types of drugs let faecal material build up in stools before being passed .

What is the best medication for the stomach flu?

Medications only treat abdomen influenza symptoms, but most people can endure a bout of digest influenza without medications. There is, then, no “ good ” medicine for abdomen influenza, alone a combination of drugs that decreases the gamble of complications, reduces discomfort, and has a minimal of unpleasant side effects .
Best medications for digest influenza
Drug Name
Drug Class
Administration Route
Standard Dosage
Common Side Effects

Oral rehydration solution
Small frequent sips every 15 minutes to a daily total of one to two liters
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

Dramamine (dimenhydrinate)
Dose depends on age. Taken every four to six hours (adults) or every six to eight hours (children)
Drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth

Travel Sickness
Antivert (meclizine)
Two to four 12.5 mg caplets once daily
Drowsiness, dry mouth, headache

Zofran (ondansetron)
One or two 4 mg tablets every six hours
Headache, drowsiness, lightheadedness

Reglan (metoclopramide)
One 10 mg tablet taken 30 minutes before each meal and at bedtime for two to eight weeks
Restlessness, drowsiness, fatigue

Compazine (prochlorperazine)
Antipsychotic (antiemetic)
Oral or rectal
One 5 mg or 10 mg tablet three to four times daily
Restlessness, blurred vision, dry mouth

Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate)
Antidiarrheal agent
Two tablets every half hour or four tablets every hour as needed
Constipation, abdominal pain, black tongue and stool

Imodium A-D (loperamide)
Antidiarrheal agent
Two 2 mg capsules followed by one 2 mg capsule after each unformed stool
Constipation, dry mouth, flatulence

many of the standard dosages above are from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) and the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ). dose is determined by your doctor based on your checkup condition, response to discussion, age, and weight. other potential side effects exist. This is not a complete list .

What are the common side effects of stomach flu medicine?

Stomach influenza medications will vary in their side effects based on the type of drug, the dose, and the patient ’ sulfur senesce. This is not a complete list of slope effects, so consult with a health wish provider about possible drug interactions or side effects. oral rehydration solutions have a long chase record of safety. rare side effects include nausea and diarrhea. It is possible, however, to overdo it. Taking excessively many electrolytes can throw the body ’ south counterweight of electrolytes off-kilter, causing potentially good aesculapian problems. Antiemetics work by affecting a region of the brain involved with nausea and vomit, so sleepiness, lightheadedness, sleepiness, restlessness, and agitation are the most coarse side effects. Dry mouth is a common complaint. The most serious side effect involves a hazardous change in the means the heart beats called QT lengthiness. The risk is greatest when these drugs are taken over a long period. The most normally experienced side consequence of antidiarrheal agents is constipation. Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting are besides possible. Bismuth subsalicylate, better known as Pepto-Bismol, contains an component that is closely related to aspirin, so it should not be taken by people with allergies to aspirin, bleeding problems, stomach ulcers, or gastritis. Like aspirin, bismuth subsalicylate can cause Reye ’ s syndrome, a condition that can cause unplayful and even fateful liver and brain damage in children. It should never be given to children or teens with viral gastroenteritis, fever, or any kind of viral infection .

What is the best home remedy for stomach flu?

There international relations and security network ’ thyroxine much that medication can do for viral gastroenteritis other than relieve symptoms. Most people, then, equitable push through a bout of stomach influenza with bed lie and a few try and true home remedies .

Drink fluids

When battling the stomach influenza, your count one priority is staying hydrated. Plain water, however, is not the best choice. alternatively, drink diluted apple juice or oral rehydration solutions throughout the day. Children should be served a cup of diluted apple juice followed by their prefer swallow. Take minor sips preferably than bad gulp to make surely the fluids stay down .

Replenish electrolytes

Besides dehydration, diarrhea can cause a significant loss of electrolytes, throwing the body ’ mho electrolytes off-balance. Make sure you consume electrolyte-rich foods such as broths, soups, and bananas. nonprescription oral rehydration solutions are besides an excellent source of electrolytes .

Eat small meals

To prevent nausea and vomit, eat a few small meals throughout the day preferably than two or three boastfully meals. Bland and bathetic foods are best : banana, applesauce, bread, sodium carbonate crackers, gelatin, and broth. The BRAT diet ( bananas, rice, applesauce, and pledge ) is an honest-to-god, familiar home remedy for an overturn abdomen, but there are no potent studies to support its use .

Avoid irritating foods and drinks

Spicy foods, dairy products, fatso foods, carbonated drinks, chocolate, and alcohol may provoke nausea and vomit and diarrhea .

Avoid certain medications

When infected with a digest virus, avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These drugs can worsen stomach annoyance, making nausea, vomit, and abdomen pain worse. If you must take a pain reliever, habit acetaminophen until your health improves .


Fighting intestinal viruses is a piece of a exercise, so give the torso batch of bed rest .

Practice good hygiene

While person fights off the stomach influenza, the body is shedding trillions of viral particles in the feces. In fact, in a person infected with norovirus, precisely one gram of feces contains adequate virus to infect five billion people. A boastfully share of treating stomach influenza, then, is keeping early people safe :

  • The infected person should wash hands regularly throughout the day. Hand sanitizer is not 100% effective for some viruses.
  • No infected person should prepare or touch other people’s food, dishes, napkins, or eating utensils.
  • The infected person should use a separate bathroom.
  • No infected person should share towels, clothes, or bedclothes.
  • Disinfect hard surfaces with bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

Frequently asked questions about stomach flu

How do you get rid of the stomach flu fast?

Viral gastroenteritis typically clears in one to a few days depending on the virus. There ’ south small to be done early than alleviating symptoms with home stomach influenza remedies and nonprescription medications .

How long does the stomach flu last?

Most cases of viral gastroenteritis resolve on their own. A norovirus infection typically lasts one to three days, but rotavirus gastroenteritis can take up to a workweek to clear. Viral gastroenteritis caused by adenovirus or astrovirus holds on longer, typically taking five to 12 days to resolve. Gastroenteritis that lasts longer than two weeks, or chronic gastroenteritis, is normally due to a bacterial or leech infection .

Does the stomach flu go away on its own?

closely all cases of viral gastroenteritis clear up on their own in a few days. treatment focuses about wholly on controlling symptoms and complications. The most serious and potentially dangerous complication is dehydration, so maintaining proper hydration is the number one concern .

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