All You Need to Know About Intestinal Flu
Intestinal Flu, which is also known as stomach flu or gastroenteritis, is a viral infection. While the specific symptoms may vary from person to person, this gastrointestinal infection usually manifests as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever and abdominal cramps. There are occasional cases where the intestinal flu is triggered by a bacterial infection but this is rare.
The good news about intestinal flu is that it is generally short-lived in that it usually does not last beyond 24-48 hours. The bad news is that like all viral infections there is no medicine to fight intestinal flu. You have to let your body battle it out with the virus. You can, however, play an important part in aiding your body by focusing on two things. Make sure you get plenty of rest and keep a close watch on rehydrating your system.
Vomiting, diarrhea and nausea can be exhausting for the patient and it is important to take rest and let the body recover. Trying to carry on the usual routine can lead to an escalation of the problem. By taking a break, you are allowing your body to deal with the reduced food intake and limiting the extent of work your body needs to do to function. Moreover, by resting and staying at home, you are also curtailing the spread of the infection.
Intestinal flu comes with symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting as mentioned earlier. These can leave the body feeling drained and can actually cause serious depletion of the body’s essential nutrients. You should make sure that you are alert to signs of dehydration such as excessive weakness and light-headedness. Sometimes these may be hard to tell when you are already battling a lot of other unpleasant and unfamiliar sensation. As a general rule of thumb, you can give yourself two to four hours without any intake depending on the severity of your symptoms. Then you should try to sip a small amount of water. If you manage to keep this down, you can try to take in other clear liquids like Gatorade or ginger ale.
Make sure you take off the fizz from carbonated drinks before consuming them – you can flatten ginger ale or sprite by stirring it with a spoon. It is not advisable to drink orange juice or heavily sugared drinks as these can cause a reaction in the digestive system. Once you are able to handle liquids, you can consider introducing non-greasy, low-sodium, non-spicy items into your diet. Saltines and toast are popular choices because they are relatively easy to digest. Wait 24 hours to add fruits and vegetables to your diet and also dairy products. Some patients known to have a reaction to dairy may do well to wait longer. If the intestinal flu persists for a while and a patient is not able to manage rehydration at home, the doctor may recommend IV fluids to replenish the body’s fluids.
It is not a good idea to take any over-the-counter medication for the diarrhea as the best way to get over a bout of intestinal flu is to flush the virus out of the system. However, after the worst of the symptoms have passed, you can take some nausea medicine to cope with the queasiness.
Intestinal flu is more a tremendous inconvenience than a worrisome health problem. By taking judicious care of your body, you should be able to recover fairly soon. It is important to mention that if there is blood in the diarrhea or in the vomit, it is important to visit your doctor immediately. Another critical detail about intestinal flu is that it is very contagious. So be uncompromising in isolating the patient’s towels and food items. Avoid sharing food and wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Continue to enforce these habits for a few days after a family member experiences intestinal flu as high standards of hygiene are the only way to avoid everybody at home succumbing to this problem.