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The stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, causes irritation and inflammation of the digestive system. It can affect the large intestine and small intestine as well as the stomach. Stomach flu is a misleading name because the flu (influenza) affects the respiratory system.
If you have stomach flu in the Bay Area, the doctors at Dignity Health are here to help all day and night, every day. Our emergency room staff is trained to treat stomach flu with speed and efficiency. If you need to go to the ER, use our Online Waiting Room to select your estimated arrival time at one of our hospitals and receive personal care.
What Causes Stomach Flu?
Stomach flu is caused by viruses. In children, the most common virus is rotavirus. Norovirus in the most common virus in adults. Other viruses that cause stomach flu include astrovirus, adenovirus, and calicivirus.
Stomach Flu Symptoms
Symptoms of stomach flu include:
- Abdominal bloating, cramping, and pain
- Body aches
- Fever and chills
- Vomiting and nausea
- Watery diarrhea
Dehydration is the main risk with stomach flu. The elderly, children, and infants are most likely to become dehydrated due to stomach flu. Signs of dehydration include:
- Dark urine
- Urinating less than normal
Infants, children, and the elderly are most susceptible to dehydration. Signs of dehydration in infants and children include:
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Irritability and listlessness
- No tears with crying
- No wet diapers for three hours
- Sunken cheeks, eyes, or soft spots
See a Dignity Health doctor as soon as possible for signs of dehydration. Also seek prompt medical care for:
- Bloody vomit or diarrhea
- High fever
- Inability to keep down liquids
- Severe abdominal pain
- Vomiting or diarrhea for more than two days
Trusted Gastroenteritis Treatment in the Bay Area
Most cases of stomach flu go away with home care measures within a couple of days. Gradually reintroduce food by starting with foods that are easy to digest. Examples include bananas, potatoes, rice, toast, and crackers. Severe cases of stomach flu may require treatment in a Dignity Health hospital.
Stomach flu treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing dehydration. This means replacing electrolytes and drinking plenty of fluids. Sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of liquid can help when vomiting or nausea prevents drinking large amounts. Broths, rehydration solutions, and sports drinks are good choices. Avoid caffeinated drinks. Adults can use over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicines, but children should not.
Antibiotics do not work on viruses, so they are not used in the treatment of stomach flu.
The best way to prevent stomach flu is to wash your hands regularly, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
Talk to your Dignity Health doctor about ways to stay healthy and avoid the stomach flu.
Dignity Health provides high-quality emergency care for stomach flu in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.