Monday, January 19, 2015

Beating The Stomach Flu

If you have noticed my absence this past week, it was certainly not intentional. I had all intentions of starting off the new year on the right foot, getting things done, making new goals, and trying new things. However, my second week into January I was struck down hard, by the stomach flu.

It does not matter if you have a flu shot or not, anyone can get the stomach flu. The stomach flu is a virus called gastroenteritis. It causes fever, nausea, the chills, diarrhea, sore muscles and sometimes vomiting. There is no cure and it can last from 1-10 days.

Anyone can get the stomach flu. Children and seniors or people with compromised immune systems are extremely susceptible. Most of the time you can get it from foods that were inadequately prepared or by hand-washing hygiene, such as not washing your hands or touching something where someone has not washed their hands.

The Stomach Flu is not the same as the flu or influenza. It does not matter if you have the flu shot or not, you can still attract the stomach flu. The stomach flu does not attack your nose, throat or lungs like influenza does. The Stomach Flu can be in your system for up to 2 weeks or longer for kids. You carry the virus long before and after the symptoms, so it is easily passed around. In fact it is also referred to as the "winter stomach bug".

If you catch the stomach flu there are a few big things you can do to get rid of it quickly. Especially since this is a virus it must be treated differently.

REST is the best medicine to fight off the stomach flu. You body needs plenty of sleep to help it fight off the virus. If you cannot sleep all day at least stay in a lying down position and reduce your normal daily activities. When you are resting your body is working hard to fight off the virus and repair any damage from it on a cellular level.

Drink lots of LIQUIDS. Like most stomach problems staying hydrated is the key. Clear liquids such as water and broth are best. Older children and adults can have sports drinks for electrolyte replacement. Ginger Tea and Seltzer can help reduce nausea. I found that lemon tea with a little honey in it worked best for my stomach.

Stick to a BRAT diet. BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. Those are things that are best for your stomach along with broth. I found light soups and honey toast with cinnamon very helpful and settling. Avoid alcohol, soda or any caffeinated beverages.

EASY ON THE MEDS Since this is a stomach virus you need to be careful on the pain medicine or it will make things worse. Take medication for pain sparingly. Ibuprofen in small doses with food is best. You should avoid acetaminophen (Tylenol) and aspirin as they cannot fight virus'. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medications. If you are having bad nausea or diarrhea you can take hydrochloride (Imodium) or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol).

Remember if you or a loved one catches the stomach flu it can be in their system for up to two weeks. Try to avoid contact with infected people and do not share food with them. The best way to beat the stomach flu and most illnesses is with good old fashioned hand washing and getting plenty of sleep. Also, check out my post on 10 Healthy Winter Habits For Your Family to help you stay healthy this winter!


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