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Q: What is stomach flu, and how is it treated?

Posted March 12, 2014 in Advice Column, Norwalk

A: Stomach flu is often confused with food poisoning. They are different ailments with different causes. However, many people confuse the two because the symptoms are so similar.

Stomach flu is usually caused by a viral infection in the digestive system. To prevent stomach flu, you must avoid contact with the virus, which of course, is not always easy to do.

Viral stomach flu will usually go away within 24 – 48 hours. Good home care can speed the recovery time. For older children and adults once vomiting has stopped for an hour, drink one ounce of clear liquid every 20 minutes for an hour. Avoid citrus juices. If vomiting lasts longer than 24 hours, sip a rehydration drink to restore lost fluids and nutrients. When feeling better, begin eating clear soups, mild foods and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 – 48 hours. Gelatin dessert, dry toast, crackers and cooked cereal are good choices. Rest in bed until you are feeling better.

Infants and young children need special attention when they have diarrhea or are vomiting because they can quickly become dehydrated.  Careful observation of the child’s appearance and fluid intake can help prevent problems.

Call your health care provider if vomiting lasts longer than one day in adults, if severe diarrhea lasts longer than two days in an adult or if there are signs of dehydration. As always, if you have questions or concerns at any point, please contact your health care provider for directions.

Information provided by “Healthwise Handbook,, submitted by Ronda Montgomery, UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine at Norwalk.

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