ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Treat Stomach Flu Virus (Gastroenteritis) Symptoms

Updated on December 28, 2018

People often mistakenly believe that the flu we get vaccinated for is the same virus that causes the stomach flu, but a stomach virus isn't really a flu at all. It's called gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, and can be caused by a variety of different viruses (like norovirus or rotavirus). We all know the dreaded flu symptoms - sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps; and if you've had it, you know how miserable and helpless it can make you feel.


How to treat vomiting with stomach flu

If nothing stays down, not even a sip of water, it is best to let the worst of the vomiting pass without trying to hydrate. This should only last a few hours. If you get to 12 hours and still cannot drink without vomiting, seek medical attention (for children, it's only 8 hours).

If you reach a point where vomiting hasn't completely ceased, but you can keep small amounts of water down, just keep drinking small amounts throughout the day. Once vomiting stops, it's okay to try reintroducing food - slowly, and in small amounts.


What to eat with the stomach flu

The most commonly recommended diet for when you are able to keep food down again is the "B.R.A.T. diet." These are the four most easily digested foods that won't exacerbate the intestinal inflammation associated with gastroenteritis:

  • B - bananas
  • R - rice
  • A - applesauce
  • T - toast

If you can't or prefer not to eat these things, there are plenty of other options for stomach ache foods:

  • Saltine crackers
  • Cheerio's
  • Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat
  • J-ello
  • spinach or zucchini
  • broths

Things to avoid:

  • Protein - it's hard to digest, and when your gut is inflamed, eating meat, eggs or legumes will only further irritate your bowel.
  • Sugar/sweetened beverages - sugar will only make diarrhea worse, so avoid candy, fruit juice and sodas (yes, even 7-Up).

Serious risks of the stomach flu

There are a couple of dangers to watch out for when fighting the stomach flu, as they can lead to hospitalization, or even death.

Dehydration - this is the most common complication of the stomach flu, and can easily land you in the hospital. Symptoms of dehydration are:

  • dry mouth and eyes, swollen tongue
  • weakness, fatigue
  • confusion, lightheadedness or fainting
  • rapid heart rate
  • inability to sweat
  • decreased urine output (and urine will be dark yellow)

Water intoxication - also referred to as water poisoning, this condition is caused by drinking too much water. Water intoxication can lead to disorientation, seizures, coma and death. It sounds silly, because logic would tell you that if you have diarrhea and vomiting, you should drink as much water as possible to prevent dehydration. However, water alone cannot replace the sodium lost while purging. It is best to drink sports drinks, like Gatorade (I water it down); or another electrolyte-replacing drink, such as SmartWater. If you don't have access to either of these, adding a little salt to a glass of water will work, too.

Prevent the spread of flu

While stomach flu is generally a 24-48 hour bug, it is incredibly contagious; and the virus can live on surfaces for a number of days after being touched by an infected person. It is very important to use proper hand washing and to disinfect anything that a person with the stomach flu has touched.

© 2013 Kat McAdams


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • findwholeness profile imageAUTHOR

      Kat McAdams 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      Stick with sips of water for now then.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have it now. Can't keep anything down. Even the Pepto Bismol came up.

    • findwholeness profile imageAUTHOR

      Kat McAdams 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      You're welcome. Just be careful giving too much sugar...that can exacerbate diarrhea. Watered down frozen Gatorade (original) would be better.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very useful reminder. It's been awhile since my house had the stomach bug and I wasn't sure what could be eaten after the vomiting subsides. I keep ice pops in the freezer which seems to help with the rehydration too. Thank.

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the information.

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 

      7 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thanks for publishing this, very useful information! I *love* SmartWater, I think the stuff is great. I'll definitely keep this on hand for the next time me or mine comes down with the dreaded bug. Voted up & useful, pinned & shared.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      7 years ago from USA

      My family and I all had a stomach flu this past spring, and it was as miserable as you say. We all lived on water, chicken broth, tea and crackers for a few days, but it left us feeling week and unsettled. You do need a week or so to recover fully.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)