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Gastroenteritis — commonly known as the stomach bug or stomach flu — causes diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. The virus is passed through contact with an infected person or through contaminated food and water. It can be an incredibly unpleasant sickness, even if it only lasts a couple of days, so it is important to do what you can to treat your symptoms and prevent the spread of the virus.

Currently, there is not a cure for the stomach bug. It is something you have to wait out. But if you know what to look for, you may be able to make yourself more comfortable.

Signs, symptoms and treating the stomach bug

If you have not experienced the stomach bug before, you’re lucky. The truth is that norovirus, the leading cause of stomach bug for adults, causes more than 20 million illnesses each year. This leads to 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can catch the stomach bug, and often you have a bad day or two before it goes away. If you or someone you care about has the stomach bug, you may recognize the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

If the virus is especially bad, you may also experience:

  • Chills or sweating
  • Fever
  • Joint stiffness or muscle pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

If you have the stomach bug, it is important to treat your symptoms. This means drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and getting lots of rest. The other important focus when you have the stomach bug is preventing the spread of the virus. To keep others from getting sick, you should:

  1. Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands often. This can prevent contamination and stop the spread of the virus.
  2. Prepare food properly: Be sure to wash fruits and vegetables and cook food thoroughly. Getting foods to the proper temperature can kill the virus.
  3. Clean infected surfaces: Disinfect surfaces after someone is sick in the home. The stomach bug can survive outside the body on countertops, glasses, and even the remote control if you’re not careful.

When to see a healthcare professional

Deaths from the stomach bug are often among the more vulnerable populations of the young and the elderly. You always want to be especially vigilant when the young and old get sick. But millions of people get the stomach bug each year. We recommend taking over-the-counter medicines to treat the symptoms you experience and do what you can to feel more comfortable. Anti-diarrheal medicines can help and pain relievers may make you feel better. If you experience any of the following symptoms or if symptoms do not improve with time, you should speak with a healthcare professional.

  • Black or bloody stool
  • Temperature over 101.5 for more than 24 hours
  • Prolonged vomiting
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days

We have talked about the importance of getting the right amount of fluids, as dehydration can take a serious toll on your body. You should seek medical attention if you feel you are dehydrated following a bout with the stomach bug.

FastMed is here to help

Nothing about the stomach bug is fun. It can cause a terribly uncomfortable couple of days. But besides drinking a lot of fluids and sleeping, there is not a lot you can do to battle back. If you have the stomach bug and want to talk to a healthcare professional, call your local FastMed. We’re happy to talk to you about your options, give you some advice, and set up an appointment if you need additional attention. Our online check-in will have you in and out and back in bed in no time at all.