What is Viral Stomach Flu?
is a viral or a bacterial attack on the gastrointestinal system. It is also known as gastroenteritis and is characterized by an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract comprising of the stomach, small and large intestines. It is caused by ingesting contaminated food and water and can spread through contact.
The said flu can be caused by viruses and bacteria alike. In this article, we are going to focus on the causes and symptoms of the disease caused by virus.
What are the viruses causing the said gastric infection?
- About 50% of all the cases of the discussed stomach infection are caused by norovirus.
- Rotovirus causes the symptoms of diarrhea and mostly affects children. About 20% of the cases of all such infections are caused by rotovirus.
- Adenovirus is responsible for causing the flu in babies and in children below the age of 2 years.
- Calcivirus can affect people from all age groups.
- Astrovirus affects all age groups and especially those with compromised immunity.
Symptoms of Stomach flu
The symptoms are generally acute, lasting for 1-6 days. The symptoms may last longer in children than adults. The symptoms may be present with a non inflammatory infection of the upper intestine or an inflammatory infection of the gastrointestinal tract and colon. The persisting symptoms are as follows:
- Diarrhea and watery stools
- Intense vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Indigestion and heart burn
- Poor feeding in infants
- Bile reflux and vomiting due to empty stomach.
- A typical child with gastroenteritis would be fatigued, sleep deprived, dehydrated, having fever and rapid pulse, skin discoloration, sunken eyes and face.
Diagnosis of the condition
No specific tests are required to diagnose the condition. The symptoms resolve on their own after 5-6 days. However, if symptoms persist for more than seven days, blood tests and stool tests are required to look for bacterial infection.
Treatment of Stomach flu
The condition being viral does not need any formal treatment and can be self treated at home. The following therapies are helpful.
Rehydration and Rest
: Because of the diarrhea and vomiting there are chances of dehydration due to fluid loss from the body. Oral rehydration therapy with water and electrolytes is essential to replenish what is lost in stools and vomit. Intravenous drip may be needed to rehydrate a patient, especially children when the dehydration has resulted in low level of alertness. Adequate rest is important to recover from the condition.
: Apart from oral rehydration solutions (ORS) normal diet is recommended. If milk worsens symptoms in children then it is alright to opt for lactose free options. Breast fed and formula fed infants can continue with their regular diet. However, sugary drinks like juices, soft drinks and foods laden with sugar should be avoided as they will aggravate the existing symptoms.
: Antibiotics are useful in bacterial infection and not in viral infections. Antiemetic drugs like Ondansetron, Metoclopramide may help with vomiting. Antispasmotics like Butylscopolamine are used in treating abdominal cramps.