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Vanquishing Stomach Flu

woman with stomach flu

Stomach pain, diarrhoea, nausea – every year an epidemic of gastro-enteritis, commonly known as stomach flu, is behind more than a million visits to the doctor! Often benign, this infection can be more serious in little ones.

Is your child complaining of stomach pains, combined with nausea and diarrhoria? Sounds like stomach flu! This inflammation of the digestive tube, the stomach and the intestine is often caused by an infection. The bad guy is often the rotavirus, a highly contagious and super-resistant microbe that strikes in winter. Less frequently, the culprit may be a bacterial infection like Salmonella, or E.coli, or a parasite. Whatever the cause, his body is put through the wringer, with alternating diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.  Sometimes headaches, fever and aching limbs join this painful parade. Once the infection is diagnosed, treatment involves relieving the symptoms. In general, stomach flu goes away after 2 to 4 days. And while this intestinal infection remains fairly common, it can be quite serious in more vulnerable patients like infants or the elderly.

Keep your fluids up

The biggest risk is severe dehydration, which can happen in just a few hours of constant diarrhoea and vomiting. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the risk and to call Emergency if you suspect dehydration. The signs are unmistakable: sudden weight loss, dark circles or hollows under eyes, a grey pallor, and urine that is dark or infrequent. In infants, be aware of a sunken fontanelle – the soft spot at the top of the head. Avoid dehydration by giving your child frequent, small quantities of liquid to drink – except milk for little ones! Also avoid foods that are difficult to digest, or that stimulate digestive transit (dairy, acidic fruit, green vegetables). Instead, choose foods that combat diarrhoea like rice, apple sauce, bananas and cooked carrots. Finally, the best thing you can do to get over the stomach flu is get plenty of rest.

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