Stomach Flu Signs

Also called Viral Gastroenteritis, many argue the stomach flu is one of the worst minor illnesses one can get. This gastric flu or stomach virus has many symptoms including, abdominal pain, nausea, cramping, diarrhea, chills, low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches and weakness.  How does this begin? Well, gastroenteritis is inflammation of the stomach and intestines, caused by viruses.

Despite the name, the flu virus doesn't cause gastroenteritis. This illness usually spreads easily from contact with a sick person. If one eats or drinks contaminated food will spread this illness. Most people recover in a few days by drinking plenty of fluids and getting plenty of rest. Older adults and infants as well as people with chronic illnesses are at a higher risk for dehydration from gastroenteritis. 


Generally over the course of about 1 to 2 days, about infection. In most cases symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea get better within 24 to 72 hours. Most patients needs to focus on hydrating to avoid dehydration. Drinking clear fluids helps but sometimes nausea and vomiting can make it difficult to drink fluids. This is the time to call the doctor. 

Exposure to someone who has the virus, eating food that was handled by someone who has the virus, contaminated water, eating spoiled or poorly cooked food.

According to estimates, more than 26 million cases of viral gastroenteritis occur every year in the U.S. Gastroenteritis can be very contagious. These steps can help prevent the illness from spreading: 

  • Carefully wash your hands every time you come in contact with someone with the illness. 
  • If you have gastroenteritis, avoid contact with others as much as possible until your symptoms go away. Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom. 
  • Keep children home from school if they are ill with diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. 
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching handrails and other surfaces in public places. 
  • Avoid spoiled or undercooked food. 
  • When traveling, drink bottled or filtered water and avoid ice and raw food.

Treatment for gastroenteritis may include: 

  • Drinking clear fluids. To replace the electrolytes lost from vomiting and diarrhea, try an electrolyte drink. Or add a pinch of salt to a glass of water. 
  • Anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea medications, if recommended by your doctor 
  • Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) as needed to ease muscle aches and lower fever. Avoid anti-inflammatory medications, which can irritate the stomach. 
  • IV fluids if severely dehydrated

Your doctor can diagnose gastroenteritis by taking your medical history and doing a physical exam. The doctor may also do stool tests.

Dehydration, excessive activity, alcohol, anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, spicy or irritating foods