Stomach Flu Survival Guide

What is the “stomach flu”?

Stomach flu refers to the irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It is usually caused by a virus or bacteria. The stomach flu has no relation to the flu or influenza which can be potentially prevented by an influenza vaccine. The stomach flu or commonly known as a stomach bug is a group of viruses that can upset your stomach, bringing on nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The good news is that, in most kids, a stomach bug is not a serious illness and will clear up on its own without stomach flu treatment after a few days of rest and fluids.

Signs of Stomach Flu

-Nausea and vomiting
-Stomach ache/cramps
-Muscle ache/cramps
-Low-grade fever
-Sleepiness or crankiness

Stomach Flu vs. Food Poisoning

Food poisoning shares some of those same symptoms as the stomach flu, it usually hits pretty quickly after eating the food in question. It often does not come with a fever and it usually goes away pretty quickly. A stomach bug, on the other hand, may hang around for three to five days or longer.

Your Child has the Stomach Flu, Now What?

1. Keep Your Child Hydrated

Hydration is the best treatment for the stomach flu.. Pick any clear fluid—water, ginger ale that has gone flat, broth or electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte. Stay away from sugary sodas, sport drinks and juices. These drinks are high in sugar, which can increase diarrhea and do not contain any nutritional benefits. Offer your child these clear fluids frequently in small amounts. Small sips versus big gulps are best.

2. When Can I Re-Introduce Food?

The rule of thumb is you can introduce foods when your child is starting to feel hungry again. Most pediatricians recommend advancing to the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for:

TOAST (plain toast with no butter, jam, peanut butter, etc.)

Plain crackers are a fine substitute for toast. Try one item from the list and give it a little time to see how your child handles it. If it comes right back up or out, it’s too soon to be introducing solids.

3. How Do I Keep the Rest of My Family from Getting Sick?

Stomach bugs are very contagious and they can be spread the whole time your child is having diarrhea or vomiting (and even up to 24 hours after it has stopped).

The stomach flu can be spread through saliva and indirect contact. Regular and vigorous hand washing is a must, especially after diaper changes and potty trips. You should also wash toys as often as you can, especially if your kids are sharing them.

Can I Prevent My Kids from Getting a Stomach Bug In the First Place?

Keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness. Everyone in the family should wash hands before meals and after going to the bathroom.

Do You Know How to Properly Wash Your Hands?
-Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold)
-Apply soap and rub hands together making bubbles, scrubbing them well
-Continue to rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds: approximately the amount of time it takes you to sing “happy birthday” song twice
-Rinse your hands with clean running water
-Dry your hands with a clean towel, paper towel or allow to air dry

 Prepare your Medicine Cabinet With Stomach Flu Remedies:

-Children’s fever reducer
-Hand sanitizers
-Oral electrolyte solute such as Pedialyte
-Diaper rash cream to treat irritated bottoms