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Viral gastroenteritis, more commonly known as the stomach flu, is a viral infection of the digestive system. Not to be confused with influenza (flu) — which affects the respiratory system — stomach flu causes irritation and inflammation in the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.
If you or a loved one need treatment for the stomach flu in Arizona, meet with a caring doctor at Dignity Health for diagnosis and personalized care. For the services you need, Find a Doctor.
Stomach Flu Symptoms
The most common symptoms of stomach flu are nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea. Other symptoms can include:
- Body aches
- Abdominal pain, bloating, and cramping
The main concern with stomach flu is dehydration. Signs of being dehydrated are:
- Dark urine
- Urinating less than normal
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Skin does not flatten out normally after gentle pinching
If you have an infant or young child with the stomach flu, be on the lookout for these signs of dehydration:
- No wet diapers for three hours
- No tears when crying
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Sunken eyes, cheeks, or soft spots
You should seek immediate medical care for:
- High fever
- Severe pain in the abdomen
- Blood diarrhea or vomit
- Vomiting or diarrhea lasting longer than two days
- Inability to keep liquids down
If you need to visit the ER, use our InQuicker™ online tool by selecting your estimated hospital arrival time and wait at home until your time to be seen. Upon arrival and check-in, you will see a doctor who will assess your situation and determine the next appropriate level of care.
Stomach Flu Causes
The primary cause of stomach flu are viruses — most commonly, the rotavirus in children and the norovirus in adults. Other viruses that can cause stomach flu are astrovirus, adenovirus, and calicivirus.
Stomach Flu Treatment & Prevention at Dignity Health
In most cases, effective treatment for stomach flu can take place at home. This includes rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and replacing electrolytes to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Good tips for treating the stomach flu at home include:
- Drinking small sips or sucking on ice chips to lessen nausea or vomiting
- Avoiding caffeinated drinks
- Sipping on broth and sports drinks to keep hydrated
As the symptoms of stomach flu start to subside, you can slowly start with foods that are easy to digest, such as rice, crackers, potatoes, toast, and bananas. Most cases of stomach flu usually go away in a few days.
You can take steps to prevent the stomach flu by washing your hands before you eat and after you use the bathroom. At Dignity Health, our primary care doctors are dedicated to helping people of all ages prevent and recover from stomach flu in Arizona.