How Long Does Stomach Flu Last? Symptoms & Recovery Tips
Stomach flu, also known as Viral Gastroenteritis, is an infection in your intestines. This is due to vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, and watery diarrhea. It is very common in children, but how long does stomach flu last? Let’s find out.
You may develop stomach flu through the contact of an infected person or by using their contaminated water or food. But if you are a healthy person you can recover quickly without any complications. People with a weak immune system can face problems.
There is not exactly any treatment for this disease, to be honest, it’s not very serious. You just need some precautions like drinking clean water is the major one. Always take your food with clean hands and avoid contaminated foods and drinks. Protection is the key.
Symptoms Of Stomach Flu
It is not exactly the same as influenza. It does not affect your respiratory system it only affects your intestines. Symptoms may last for 2 to 3 days. Some common symptoms and signs of stomach flu are :
- Low-level fever
- Vomiting or nausea
- Watery diarrhea
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Loss of appetite
Causes Of Stomach Flu
Stomach flu is caused by different viruses, including:
- Norovirus is the major type of virus found in children and adults. This is caused due to foodborne illnesses around the world. This infection can transfer among families and communities.
- Rotavirus is also a common virus caused by putting your contaminated fingers in their mouths. It is more severe in young children and infants. Adults may not show symptoms of this virus but can spread illness.
Uncooked or raw food can also make you sick. Drinking contaminated water can also cause stomach flu. In most cases, the virus goes through the fecal-oral route. This means that someone affected by this virus has touched your food right after using the toilet.
When To Visit Doctor?
Stomach flu can be treated at home if diagnosed at initial stages. But if you think it is getting worse you may visit the doctor.
Adults must see the doctor when:
- They vomit blood
- They feel dehydrated all the time
- They have a fever above 104F
- They notice blood in bowel
- They can’t keep liquids for 24 hours
- They have been vomiting for more than two days
For Infants and Children
If your child shows the following signs, take him to the doctor.
- Feels dehydrated
- Has bloody diarrhea
- Is in pain and discomfort
- Has a fever higher than 102F
- Is lethargic and irritable
If you have a baby and he vomits quite often, then visit your doctor. Babies suffering from stomach flu may show these symptoms:
- Vomiting that lasts for several hours
- Has blood in the poop
- Severe diarrhea
- Dry mouth or cries without tears
- Is drowsy, unresponsive or sleepy
- Has fontanel on the top of the head
- Hasn’t had a wet diaper in six hours
How Long Does Stomach Flu Last?
Stomach flu lasts for about 1 to 3 days but in the worst case, it can last for 10 days also. In some cases, the vomiting can stop within 24 hours if not then visit your doctor.
But lingering diarrhea can last for days. It can become dangerous for toddlers, children, babies and elders if it changes to dehydration and is not treated on time.
How Long Are You Contagious?
The stomach flu is extremely contagious. It actually depends on the type of virus you are affected with. Norovirus is the most common type of virus that causes stomach flu. People with stomach flu are contagious for a few days after they start showing symptoms.
Norovirus can last for more than two weeks in the stool. This way parents or caretakers who change the diaper may also get affected by the virus. To prevent themselves from this virus, they need to take precautions like wash hands quickly after changing the diaper.
Rotavirus causes stomach flu in toddlers, children and infants. Stomach flu caused by this virus is contagious during the incubation period that lasts for two to three days. Even after recovery, people infected with this virus remain contagious for up to two weeks.
There can be many complications of viral gastroenteritis but the most common one is dehydration. It causes the loss of essentials salts and minerals from your body along with the severe loss of water.
Dehydration should not be a problem if you are healthy and drink enough fluids that fulfill the requirements of your body. Children with a weak immune system can severely become dehydrated when they lose fluids from vomiting. Dehydration can be fatal but rarely.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Your doctor can diagnose gastroenteritis on the basis of physical examination and maybe on the presence of such cases around you. A quick stool test can also detect whether you are affected by rotavirus or norovirus. There is no quick test for detecting other viruses that may cause stomach flu.
Your doctor will ask you to submit a stool sample to diagnose a possible bacteria or parasite infection. There is no specific treatment for gastroenteritis. Antibiotics are not for such viruses nor they can be effective. Treatment just includes precautionary measures.
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