How to treat ‘stomach flu’


Before we get to the remedy, here’s the reality: There’s no such thing as “stomach flu”.

“Stomach flu is a misnomer,” says Dr Cindy Kermott, a Mayo Clinic preventive medicine physician. “It is just a common term for a viral gastroenteritis. And everyone has probably had it – when you have nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.”

Dr Kermott says flu settles in your chest – not your stomach.

“It has to do with the lungs,” she explains. “You get the dry cough, the fevers, the myalgias (muscle pains), where you feel like a train has hit you. That is influenza.”

So how do you treat what we’ve been calling “stomach flu”?

“For the first few hours, you want to avoid anything by mouth,” advises Dr Kermott. “You just want to rest and have your stomach settle a little bit.”

After that, she says it’s vital you keep your body hydrated.

Sip on a clear fluid. Water is best, but clear sodas, broths or weak teas are okay too.

If you can’t tolerate liquids, try chewing on ice chips.

“It’s important to maintain your hydration,” she stresses.

When your stomach has fully settled, try eating small amounts of easily digestible foods like soda crackers, unbuttered toast, gelatin or a banana.

Avoid fatty and spicy foods until you’re fully recovered.

Finally, Dr Kermott says to keep listening to your body.

“Symptoms exist because it’s telling your body what to do,” she says. “It’s telling you to slow down.” – Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service

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