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5 Dependable Stomach Flu Survival Tips

January 24, 2017

stomach flu.jpgIt happened. Despite your best precautions, you still came down with the stomach flu. Now your whole body is covered in a cold sweat and your digestive system suddenly feels so terrible, you can barely make it to the bathroom in time.

Unlike the more widely discussed influenza, the stomach flu is really a form of gastroenteritis—most often caused by the norovirus in adults and a rotavirus in children. Not only is the stomach flu highly contagious, but it can also be pretty miserable. Usually lasting between 24 and 48 hours, victims of the stomach flu often experience both vomiting and diarrhea, along with fever and body aches.

Even though it’s bound to be a miserable few days, you can make yourself feel better until the worst subsides by keeping in mind these five tips for stomach flu survival.

Stay Hydrated…But Take It Slow

Vomiting and diarrhea will quickly dehydrate your body, which will make you feel even worse. But you also don’t want to put too much liquid in your body too quickly. Instead, try slowly drinking clear liquids that will be easy on your stomach. Water is, of course, a good choice, but you can also try clear carbonated beverages—like Sprite or ginger ale—or something with electrolytes, like Gatorade or Pedialyte. Do your best to drink at least 1 or 2 ounces of liquid every 30 minutes.

Choose What You Eat Carefully

If you’re no longer vomiting, you may want to try to eat something. However, since the second phase of gastroenteritis is often diarrhea, you’ll want to be careful about what you put in your body. Too much sugar or fiber can make diarrhea worse, so stick to bland, starchy foods. Try bananas, soda crackers, toast or rice and don’t push it—stick to small amounts at a time until you’re sure your gastrointestinal tract is on the mend.

Check With Your Doctor Before Taking Medication

Even though some anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal medicines could help lessen the severity of your symptoms, it’s still best to check with your doctor  before taking anything. Often, it’s best to let your infection run its course, rather than slowing it down and risking feeling bad for longer.

How Can You Prevent the Stomach Flu?

Luckily, you can take some precautions if you haven’t yet fallen victim to the stomach flu. First and foremost, do your best to avoid contact with sick people. However, since this isn’t always possible or preventable, follow these three tips for staying healthy:

  • Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Clean and disinfected hands are the No. 1 defense against germs. Since the norovirus can often withstand hand sanitizer, stick to hot water and soap when it’s an option.
  • If someone in your home comes down with the stomach flu, be vigilant in your disinfecting. Soap and water are again the best defense, but you can also use a diluted bleach solution to clean shared toys, bathroom surfaces and other durable items.
  • Keep your immune system strong. Even though there’s often nothing you can do to stop the stomach flu once you’ve been exposed to it, having a strong and healthy immune system will help. This means getting plenty of sleep and eating well all the time—not just during flu season.

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