Is there anything worse in the entire world than the pain that goes along with the stomach flu? Your stomach is upset, so you are in a bad grumpy mood. And worse, you can’t eat, so soon enough the fact that you are hungry is added to the equation. Sometimes stomach flu is so violent that people are unable to keep down the pills and other medications necessary to treat their illness. If this happens, advanced stomach flu can even land you in the hospital. Worse, stomach flu often comes along with vomiting, diarrhea and other unpleasant and smelly side effects. For most people, stomach flu should be avoided at all costs. But if stomach flu were to strike – and it likely will at least a few times in the average person’s lifetime – there are ways to treat and eventually ride the illness out from the relative comfort of your own home.
The most important thing to know about the physiology of the stomach flu is that it is a virus. Because stomach flu is a virus, no amount of antibiotics is going to kill the stomach flu. Instead, the only effective stomach flu treatment is to provide supportive care while the body heals itself. Supportive care means to treat the symptoms of a disease and not the actual root cause. Your body will take care of that for you, but, even if your immune system is normal and healthy, you may have from one day to over a week to look forward to. Still, there are effective stomach flu treatments even though they do not attack the root cause of the illness.
Adverse symptoms of the stomach flu include vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, excessive urination, and even, if you have been sick long enough, dangerous dehydration. When dehydrated, your body loses important vitamins and minerals necessary to keep you functioning as a healthy human being. You might suspect you are dehydrated when you suffer from the following dehydration symptoms: excessive thirst, a dry mouth, producing little or no urine, dark yellow colored urine, decreased tears, severe weakness or lethargy, and dizziness or lightheadedness. If you have been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea or increased urination over a period of days, dehydration is likely to strike.
Luckily, one of the most common supportive stomach flu treatments deals with dehydration. For most people who are suffering from mild stomach flu, staying hydrated with water is possible. But if you are suffering from severe stomach flu or have suffered for a prolonged period of time, you may need special stomach flu treatment. This stomach flu treatment is called “oral rehydration therapy” and it can be found over the counter in most drugstores. You may be familiar with Pedialyte. Pedialyte is actually an oral hydration solution recommended specifically for children. Because of their smaller size and lighter weight, children can suffer especially adverse effects from dehydration and should be treated immediately if dehydration is suspected.
One misconception about stomach flu treatment is that the body’s needed vitamins and minerals can be replaced with popular sports drinks. In fact, those drinks are designed for taste and consumer appeal and not as medicine, and should not be used to replace oral hydration medications as a stomach flu treatment.
Other popular stomach flu treatments include sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water or other clear liquids, and gradually introducing mild foods such as bananas, broth, or toast as the flu begins to clear up. As with any illness, getting plenty of rest is a preferred stomach flu treatment. If your symptoms persist or your dehydration progresses, visit your primary care physician immediately.