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Stomach Flu When to See a Doctor

Stomach Flu When to See a Doctor

stomach virus

Anyone who has had the stomach flu can tell you it’s not fun at all. While it may be commonly called “the stomach flu,” gastroenteritis isn’t really the flu. It’s not the same as influenza. Influenza only affects the respiratory system. Gastroenteritis causes inflammation in the stomach and intestines.

Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Watery, diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Occasional muscle aches or headache
  • Low-grade fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Symptoms will depend on the cause of the gastroenteritis. Many things can cause the stomach flu including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and poor hygiene. Antibiotics may be used to treat bacterial infections, but they won’t work on viruses. Symptoms usually last a day or two, but can occasionally last as long as 10 days.


The stomach flu spreads very quickly. It is found in the stool and vomit of infected people, and many of the viruses and bacteria that cause stomach flu can live on hard surfaces and objects. Most often you can get the stomach flu by:

  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with stomach flu viruses or bacteria
  • Touching surfaces or objects with stomach flu viruses or bacteria
  • on them and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth
  • Having direct contact with a person who is infected with stomach flu, for example, when caring for someone with the stomach flu or sharing foods or eating utensils with them

Practical Tips

For many viral infections such as norovirus (one virus that causes gastroenteritis), the illness in contagious from the moment the person begins to feel sick to several days after they start feeling better. There is no vaccine for the stomach flu, so it is important that you learn how to protect yourself and your family especially young children and the elderly.

  • Practice proper hand hygiene
  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These alcohol-based products can help reduce the number of germs on your hands, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.
  • Take care in the kitchen
  • Carefully rinse fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating.
  • Do not prepare food while infected
  • People with the stomach flu should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for at least 2 days after they recover from their illness. Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces
  • After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. If no such cleaning product is available, you can use a solution made with 5 tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully—try not to shake them —to avoid spreading virus. If available, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. Wash soiled items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry

When to See a Doctor

The stomach flu spreads quickly from person to person in enclosed places like schools, daycares, nursing homes, and cruise ships. If you are unfortunate enough to get the stomach flu, YOU SHOULD STAY HOME and drink plenty of fluids so you don’t get dehydrated. In severe cases, days of throwing up and diarrhea can cause you to lose a lot of water. If you feel dizzy or weak while you have the stomach flu, you’re probably dehydrated. Water is the best to drink since sugar in soft drinks could make diarrhea worse.

Most cases of the stomach flu can be treated at home, but see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood in your vomit or poop
  • Severe dehydration — you can’t pee, or there’s very little when you do go, you’re very thirsty, can’t make tears, and your mouth is always dry
  • Fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher in an infant or 102.2 degrees F or higher in an older child or adult
  • Swollen tummy or pain in the right lower part of the belly
  • Vomiting that lasts more than 48 hours

If you can’t keep fluids down and you’re losing them from fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, get emergency medical help. Tell friends and family that if you pass out, someone should call 911.

If you have questions about the stomach flu give us a call at 662-282-4226. We strive for a flexible office schedule that will meet your needs. We are open from 7:30 am – 7:00 pm on Mondays, 7:30 am – 5:30 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays Thursdays, and 7:30 am – 4:00 pm.on Fridays.


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