Stomach flu: Symptoms and treatment for viral gastroenteritis

Are you experiencing abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a mild fever? They could be signs of stomach flu. Know its symptoms and treatment.

Delhi is currently grappling with a notable rise in stomach flu cases, as there have been increased complaints of abdominal pain and cramps over the past few weeks. This surge is largely attributed to gastroenteritis, which is a viral condition that typically presents with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and dehydration. Gastroenteritis, often referred to as the stomach flu, can spread easily, especially in densely populated areas like Delhi. Timely medical intervention is crucial to mitigate its effects, as untreated cases can exacerbate dehydration and lead to more severe complications, particularly among vulnerable populations such as the elderly and young children. Read on to learn its symptoms, causes, and how to deal with it.

Health Shots got in touch with Internal Medicine Physician Dr Vikram Jeet Singh, to learn everything about stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis.

What is stomach flu?

Stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis, is an intestinal infection that is caused by viruses like norovirus or rotavirus. It may cause inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Those who have stomach flu may experience watery, non-bloody diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Bloody diarrhoea means the infection is severe and needs immediate medical attention. It spreads through contaminated food, water, and close contact with infected people.

Why’s there a sudden rise in viral gastroenteritis cases?

Dr Singh suggests that the significant population density in Delhi, coupled with a lack of social distancing, contributes to the spread of stomach flu. A study by HHS Publish Access highlights that norovirus, a leading cause of outbreaks of acute infectious gastroenteritis worldwide, is particularly highly contagious within households in urban areas. Dr Singh also notes that inadequate hygiene practices and consumption of street food can elevate the likelihood of contracting the stomach flu and other digestive issues.

Woman with gut health problems
A change in weather can cause gut health problems. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Is stomach flu transmissible?

Yes, stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, is highly transmissible. It spreads through direct contact with an infected person (for example, by sharing food, water, or eating utensils), contaminated surfaces, or consuming contaminated food or water. Dr Singh explains, “Viruses such as enterovirus, norovirus, and rotavirus, are highly contagious and can cause the problem. This is why there’s a rise in cases of stomach flu.”

Also Read

Dermatomyositis: The rare inflammatory disease that took Dangal actor Suhani Bhatnagar’s life

Infected individuals should avoid preparing food for others, and close contacts should be vigilant to prevent further transmission.

What are the symptoms of the stomach flu?

It manifests with a range of symptoms primarily affecting the gastrointestinal tract. “Typically, individuals experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain or cramps. These symptoms often affect you suddenly and can be accompanied by mild fever, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue,” says Dr Singh.

The severity and duration of symptoms vary depending on the specific virus causing the infection and the individual’s overall health. Dehydration is a common concern due to fluid loss from vomiting and diarrhoea. “In more severe cases, symptoms may persist for several days, leading to significant discomfort and weakness,” adds Dr Singh. If symptoms persist and get severe, seek medical attention.

Healthshots Wellness Community For Women

Healthshots Inner CircleAn exclusive wellness community for women


Who is at more risk?

Although the stomach flu can affect anyone regardless of age or health status, certain groups are at higher risk of severe symptoms and complications. According to Dr Singh, young children, especially those under five, have low immunity, making them more susceptible to such problems. Similarly, older adults, whose immune systems may weaken with age, are also at risk.”

causes of stomach pain
Children are more susceptible to stomach flu. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

In fact, people with weakened immune systems due to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, immunodeficiency disorders, or undergoing chemotherapy are particularly vulnerable. Additionally, poor hygiene and consuming contaminated food and water can also increase your risk of contracting stomach flu.

Select Topics of your interest and let us customize your feed.


How to prevent stomach flu?

The focus of the treatment is on managing symptoms and preventing dehydration. Here are 7 tips you should follow to reduce the risk of stomach flu:

  • To avoid dehydration, drink clear fluids like water, electrolyte solutions, or ginger ale. Small, frequent sips can help prevent vomiting.
  • Avoid dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Consume foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT diet) because these foods are gentle on the stomach and provide necessary nutrients.
  • Practise good hygiene by washing your hands frequently to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Over-the-counter medications like antidiarrheals or anti-nausea drugs may alleviate symptoms but should be used cautiously, especially in children or older adults (always take it on doctor’s advise).
  • Rest is crucial to helping the body recover.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are infected with stomach flu.

If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention, especially if there’s severe dehydration, persistent vomiting, a high fever, or blood in stool!

#Stomach #flu #Symptoms #treatment #viral #gastroenteritis

Leave a Reply