Viral gastroenteritis (also known as stomach flu) is a common infection that affects the stomach and intestines. Let’s find out about the symptoms, incubation times, possible cure and prevention of this viral infection. Even if it is usually called flu, stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis) has nothing in common with seasonal flu.
What is seasonal flu?
Seasonal flu causes high fever, muscle pain and respiratory symptoms such as cough and cold; it is transmitted mainly through coughing and sneezing and is the cause of different types of viruses that change every year.
What is stomach flu?
Stomach flu, on the other hand, is characterized by the feeling of nausea, abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea; it is transmitted via the faecal-oral route and is caused in most cases by Rotavirus, Norovirus, Adenovirus, Sapovirus or Astrovirus.
Stomach flu: symptoms and duration
Viral gastroenteritis is provoked by viruses that cause inflammation of the stomach and / or small intestine, creating the following symptoms:
- cramps and abdominal pain,
- nausea accompanied by vomiting,
- general malaise and fever.
- Stomach flu is highly contagious, the symptoms appear after less than a day of infection and cause discomfort that lasts up to 4-5 days. Those who have contracted gastroenteritis are infectious from the onset of symptoms until at least 48 hours after their disappearance.
- Following infection, immunity is acquired only for the infecting virus, however this immunity is limited in time. Symptoms usually disappear within a few days but in the case of a compromised immune system, they may last even for more than a week.
Stomach flu: treatments and remedies
There are no specific treatments to cure stomach flu. The patient has to wait for the disease to run its course. Being an infection caused by a virus, antibiotics cannot be used; however, we can provide some guidelines to be followed such as:
- washing hands: this is the most effective method to prevent stomach flu and limit its spreading.
- Drinking lots of fluids: in case of diarrhoea, liquids and minerals that are fundamental for our body are lost. The elderly and children are at risk of dehydration as they often do not feel the need to drink and hence exhibit: insufficient urination, lethargy, weakness, dizziness etc. (Fluid Diary to track fluid intake)
- Avoiding fatty foods: a light diet based on boiled vegetables and starch to replenish the lost mineral salts is advised. Raw vegetables should be avoided because they are rich in fiber and water, which could hyperstimulate the intestine.
- Preference should be given to foods such as: apples, garlic, oats and ginger infusions which help eliminate the sense of nausea. However, avoid sweet carbonated drinks, coffee, spirits, milk, dairy products and fried foods.
- Anti-diarrhoeal medicine: should be used to treat symptoms but not for more than 48 hours to avoid paradoxical effects.
- Take lactic ferments: they are recommended to speed up healing and recovery as they stimulate the intestinal flora to defend our body.