When you have diarrhea and vomiting, you may say you have the “stomach flu.” These symptoms often are due to a condition called gastroenteritis.
With gastroenteritis, your stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed. The cause is typically a viral or bacterial infection.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis
With gastroenteritis, the main symptoms you probably have are watery diarrhea and vomiting. You might also have stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and a headache.
Because of diarrhea and vomiting, you also can become dehydrated. Watch for signs of dehydration, such as dry skin and a dry mouth, feeling lightheaded, and being really thirsty. Call our doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
Stomach Flu and Children
Children can get dehydrated quickly, so if your child has the stomach flu, it’s important that you look for signs that they are very thirsty or has dry skin or a dry mouth. If you have a baby, look for fewer, drier diapers.
Keep children with gastroenteritis out of day care or school until all symptoms are gone. Check with your doctor before giving your child any medicine. Drugs used to control diarrhea and vomiting aren’t usually given to children younger than 5.
What Causes Gastroenteritis?
There are many ways gastroenteritis can be spread:
- Contact with someone who has the virus
- Contaminated food or water
- Unwashed hands after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper
- Give a child an oral rehydration solution. Call your doctor for age-appropriate dosing specifics.
- Give an adult as much clear fluid as possible.
- The person should drink fluids slowly in frequent, small amounts. Drinking too much too fast can make nausea worse.
As symptoms start to ease:
- Gradually ease food back into the person’s diet.
- Start with bland, easy-to-digest food such as crackers, bananas, toast, rice, and chicken.
- Avoid dairy, caffeine, and alcohol until recovery is complete.