The stomach flu doesn’t seem to have a favorite season. It strikes when it wants and it’s downright unpleasant. It can also be frightening, which is why emergency rooms get a lot of patients with gastrointestinal bugs. However, most stomach bugs can be treated at home or a stop at your local urgent care clinic.
Since they’re so common, it’s important to have an understanding about what they are, what you can do and when you should get help.
Defining the Stomach Bug
Most stomach bugs are caused by a virus, specifically the norovirus. This is important, because it means that antibiotics will have no effect on most stomach bugs.
Also called the “stomach flu,” stomach bugs have little to do with influenza. This means that your flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting a stomach bug.
You can get a stomach bug from food, surfaces or another person. These bugs are pretty tough and can live for days on a surface.
Home Treatment for the Stomach Bug
Most of the time these bugs will resolve themselves in a couple days. To help get through those days, you can:
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Get plenty of rest.v
- Take anti-nausea or anti-diarrhea medicine (as long as it’s a virus).
- Eat foods that are easy on the stomach like toast, rice or soup.
- You have a fever over 101.5 degrees.
- You have severe pain in your stomach.
- You cannot keep any fluids down.
As you feel better, you can gradually introduce your normal foods back into your diet.
When to Get Medical Attention
You should call your doctor or stop in an urgent care clinic if:
You can get urgent care at walk-in clinics, so don’t hesitate to stop in at one if you are concerned. It’s better to be safe than sorry.