Every winter stomach flu does its rounds. There are children off school, and that leads to a whole household ending up sick. It’s time to take steps to avoid it completely or at least focus on reducing the symptoms if you do end up catching it.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to keep your immune system in working order. These steps will help to limit the virus or bacteria affecting your body and help to kick the illness right away. Other steps will help to lessen symptoms quickly, boosting your body’s immune system to kick it as soon as it hits.
By learning everything you can about stomach flu, you’ll know if people close to you have it. You’ll be able to help your kids naturally and focus on keeping others in the home protected.
I’ve Had the Flu Shot, I Won’t Get the Stomach Flu Right?
There are many misconceptions about the flu shot. People believe that because they’ve had it, then they won’t get any illness going round throughout winter. The problem with the flu shot is that it isn’t perfect.
It’s a vaccination against the most common types of flu passed around every year. There are many other strains, and stomach flu isn’t one of those strains covered by the flu.
Does that mean that the flu vaccination is worthless? Not quite. It will help to keep your body protected against the most common types of flu out there. Since your body isn’t fighting against them, you’ll find that it can fight off other types of flu more effectively.
Yes, you could lessen the symptoms or the risk of catching stomach flu, because your immune system isn’t working double time. However, the flu shot isn’t going to guarantee protection.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a stomach flu shot for adults at the moment. You’ll need to take other steps to avoid getting this annoying virus.
Is Norovirus and Stomach Flu the Same?
You may have heard the term norovirus passed around and noticed that there are some very similar symptoms to stomach flu. The two are actually the same thing.
More accurately, norovirus is the name given to the range of viruses that cause stomach flu. There are other names linked to noroviruses, such as rotavirus (commonly in babies) and astrovirus.
The only norovirus that has a shot is rotavirus. This is because it can be extremely dangerous for children to get it, so it’s best to offer some sort of protection while their immune systems are still developing.
Norovirus is one of the easiest viruses to spread. In fact, if one person has it in a crowded place then almost everyone in the area will end up with some symptoms. Not everyone will get the same symptoms or to the same degree, but they will still have to fight off the virus in their bodies. This is why hospitals, day care centers, and schools tend to be where the viruses take hold. One person comes home with it, and the rest of the household gets it.
The great news is that you can take steps to help your immune system. We’ll get onto that in a few minutes.
The main thing to know is that spreading of the virus is usually through touch. This means it can be spread just by using the same door handle or even through food handling. There are hygiene requirements for those working in kitchens or serving food, but other places of work won’t have the same strict components for their workers.
And to make matters worse, the virus can linger for days on surfaces, unlike many other viruses. That means that you could touch something that a person with stomach flu hasn’t touched for three or four days and you could end up coming down with the symptoms. You’ll notice many workplaces have “wash your hands” signs everywhere and this is one of the reasons why.
Is Stomach Flu and Food Poisoning the Same?
There are views that stomach flu is just severe food poisoning. The two are certainly not the same, but they do have many of the same symptoms. You’ll feel sick, suffer stomach upsets, and deal with diarrhea.
Food poisoning is an illness that is caused by bacteria, while stomach flu is a virus. The two take hold of the body in very different ways. Your body will mostly be able to fight off a virus unless your immune system is weak or you don’t give your body the chance to fight it.
With bacterial infections, you may end up needing medical care. In fact, food poisoning like salmonella and E.coli have been linked to hospitalization and sometimes death. They have required urgent medical care to fight the infection.
Those with food poisoning will usually get it by eating contaminated food from the bacteria. Stomach flu can occur just by handling food that others with the virus have touched.
You will usually be able to tell the difference based on the intensity and quickappearance of the symptoms. Food poisoning will hit you almost immediately – usually within hours of eating the contaminated food. Meanwhile, stomach flu symptoms can take days to appear fully. You may feel achy at first as if you have the regular flu. Over a few days, you’ll notice other, more serious, stomach flu problems.
The bad news for those with stomach flu is that it can also take longer to get over all the symptoms. Most patients find that they have symptoms for around a week, whereas food poisoning can disappear on its own after a couple of days if it isn’t too serious. It will depend on your immune system and treatments that you use.
What’s the Biggest Risk for Stomach Flu?
If you have the stomach flu, you may feel like you’re dying. The pain can be intense, and you constantly feel like you’re in the toilet. Some people find that lying on the cold bathroom tiles is the only way to stop the symptoms.
While you feel like you’re dying, the virus isn’t actually killing you. However, there are some risks due to the symptoms.
Remember that you’re losing more fluids while suffering from stomach flu. You’ll barely be able to eat, and you’ll struggle just to drink water. Your body can cope without the food, but it needs to replace the extra fluids that you’re missing out on.
If you have thestomach flu, you’ll need to try to replace fluids in some way, shape or form. Just sipping water throughout the day is better than not doing anything at all. But you need to watch out for drinking too much water on its own.
You’ll want to try to get some electrolytes back in your system. Your body will get rid of the sodium and potassium levels, and you’ll feel weak throughout the day. The electrolytes will help to balance out bodily functions to prevent damage to your organs. This is especially the case if your body is affected for longer than normal with norovirus.
Are There Any Treatment Options?
Stomach flu is one of those annoying illnesses that doesn’t have a treatment plan. There are plenty of over the counter medications that claim they fight the symptoms, but they don’t actually get rid of the virus. Your body needs to work on fighting the actual virus on its own, and you need to give it time to be able to do that.
However, over the counter medications can be helpful. One of the biggest benefits is that they ease the symptoms. They can put electrolytes back into your body and make it possible to start eating and drinking earlier than without them. You may feel like you can actually sit up in bed or sleep without waking up to run to the toilet every two seconds.
Don’t expect them to make you better sooner. It’s best to focus on a few homeopathic remedies that support your immune system and get plenty of sleep so your body can fight off the viral infection trying to take over.
You will get better over time. But the lack of treatment options is why you will want to work on avoiding the virus altogether.
If your symptoms are extremely severe, especially in younger children, you may need some hospital treatments. Doctors can put you on a drip to make sure your body gets the liquid it needs to help fight the virus.
Make sure you read the labels for any type of medication you buy. There are times that they will make symptoms worse, especially if you have a high fever. Talk to your doctor – ring if you don’t want to risk passing on the virus to others – to find out the best medications to take to ease your stomach flu sooner.
When Will I Need a Doctor?
Having stomach flu isn’t a major cause for concern for doctors. Diarrhea and vomiting are normal, and the body will work on counteracting them quickly.
If you see any blood in either, you should speak to your doctor immediately. This is a sign that there is something else wrong or that your body is struggling with fighting off the virus. You should also call if your urine is dark orange/brown or you have no urine output at all, as these are signs that your body is completely dehydrated. Your body isn’t able to remove toxins from the body as well as it should.
Another symptom that will be a concern is a high fever. In adults, anything over 101.5F or 38.6F is a dangerous sign, especially if paracetamol isn’t taking your temperature down. This is highly dangerous for children. You can always ask for a phone consultation and a home visit if necessary.
If the virus hasn’t gone away after a few days of the symptoms taking effect, you will want to discuss this with your doctor. It is possible that there is something else causing a problem or that your body needs a little help to fight it off.
Am I High Risk for Stomach Flu?
You may go your whole life never getting stomach flu – you’re one of the lucky ones, if so. Most of us will come down with it at least once, but we may not remember.
This is because the young are among the most likely to suffer from the stomach flu. Remember that crowded places are the prime area for the virus to jump from body to body. Schools and day care centers are perfect spots since children don’t exactly always wash their hands!
The old are also at high risk. Their immune systems start to weaken so they will find it harder to fight off infections. Those who are already sick are also at a high risk of developing symptoms. Their bodies are already fighting off problems.
If you’re a healthy adult, you will usually find that you don’t suffer the symptoms as much. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip over the next part of this article.
How Do You Avoid Stomach Flu?
Since there are no treatments, it’s time to look for ways to prevent the norovirus affecting you. Can you prevent it? Of course! Here are a few steps that you should take.
Always Wash Your Hands. Before handling food, when visiting the hospital, and after using the toilet, make sure you wash your hands. You can also get antibacterial soap, although this isn’t that effective against viral infections.
The process of washing your hands regularly will help to get rid of many of the bacteria and viruses that you will pick up throughout the day. Picking up viruses is easy, considering door handles, counter tops, and computer keyboards are the most common places for them to linger!
Just normal hand soap is highly recommended. There is a common issue of using too many antibacterial items, meaning the bacteria becomes resistant to them.
Use Bleach for Cleaning. Don’t rely on water for cleaning your countertops and bathrooms. The norovirus particles are extremely hard to get rid of, and they will linger after a light clean. Throughout the day you can just wipe down your countertops, but at the end of the day pull out the bleach. This is especially important if someone in the house has the stomach flu.
Get to work scrubbing away all the virus particles. If your baby poops in the bath, wash it out immediately with bleach to avoid infecting anyone else. If there is a chance that someone got virus particles over your desk, pull out bleach products to clean them up.
Don’t forget about your carpet! The virus can live for weeks in the fibers, so make sure you get it shampooed and thoroughly cleaned regularly. You can do it yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. It’s completely up to you.
Incubate Yourself and Your Kids. If you know someone in your home has the stomach flu, incubate them. This puts you and others at less risk of getting the virus.
This will be difficult when it comes to children. You want to help them feel better, and that can mean a lot of cuddles. You’ll also want to make sure they get all the fluids they need. It’s even harder with babies, who just have no idea what is happening to them.
Use common sense during the incubation period. Stay in the home and limit the spread of the infection there. Let your friends and family members that it’s not safe for the time being to visit.
Build Up Your Immune System. Help your immune system fight off the virus before it has a chance to take hold. Focus on a diet that is full of immune boosting ingredients. That means ditch the fried foods, sugars, and salt. You want to focus on vegetables, fruits, protein, and fibers to keep the body well.
If you do still get the infection, look at a diet that replaces the minerals and nutrients that you’re losing. Eat bananas to replace the potassium and focus on drinks that have electrolytes without the sugars – that means no sports drinks!
Are You Ready to Fight Off the Norovirus
Stomach flu is one of the worst illnesses to get. There’s very little you can do about it, except try to take steps to prevent it from affecting you. It can take a week or so to get rid of the symptoms, and you may still be ill after that.
It’s important to keep your immune system strong. Those who are already ill are more likely to suffer from it, along with the young and old where the immune system is struggling. Everyone will usually get over it by themselves, without medical help, but that doesn’t mean you want to suffer the symptoms!
Take care when in crowded places and make sure you wash your hands frequent to avoid stomach flu affecting your household.