Stomach flu is not actually like the viral respiratory flu, which we are strongly advised to get vaccinated against every winter. But, it’s just as miserable, painful, and annoying.
Stomach flu causes diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. The only thing respiratory flu and stomach flu have in common is that they come from viruses. But, stomach flu comes from a totally different set of germs. The intestinal inflammation responsible for these miserable symptoms is called “viral gastroenteritis”.
Stomach Flu: Symptoms
The most common stomach flu virus is the novovirus. These germs usually are found in schools and hospitals. Transmission is fast and getting the bug is easy. Overall, norovirus is very contagious.
In the United States the norovirus season occurs mostly between October and April. It coincides with the regular respiratory flu and therefore many people think that it is part of the regular flu season.
The majority of stomach flu cases are passed from person to person via direct contact. Direct contact can take many forms. For example, you breathe in airborne germs from someone near you who coughs or vomits. Also, shaking hands with someone who is sick, eating food prepared by a sick person, or touching utensils or surface area contaminated with virus from stool or vomit.
Your getting sick is as easy and fast as picking up your cell phone from a contaminated surface and then touching your face. This especialy holds tru in public places such as airports and restaurants.
It’s estimated that approximately 25% of devices are contaminated.
The norovirus works fast. For example, symptoms will usually start 12-48 hours after contact and last for about 2-4 days.
Stomach Flu: Prevention
Once you have caught the stomach flu, there are only a limited number of things you can do. First, drink lots of liquids to stay hydrated. Dehydration is a major complication of stomach virus. This is especially true for senior citizens, who have weaker immune systems and may also have other chronic illnesses.
Next, wash your hands often. Use soap and warm water. If you prefer a sanitizer, make sure they have at least 60% alcohol content.
In general, doctors recommend good hygiene at all times so as to ward off potential stomach flu problems.
Always do the following:
- Wash your hands with soap and water water after using the bathroom,
- Stay away from a sick person,
- disinfect countertops and other hard services,
- wash linens well if one of your family members is sick
Remember, anyone with a compromised-weak immune system is very vulnerable to catching this illness. These include senior citizens, pregnant women, and small children.
If your stomach flu lasts for more than 72 hours, or you can’t keep fluids down for 24 hours-see your doctor immediately.