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What is stomach flu and how it affects your body?

Stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection which causes irritation and inflammation of intestinal mucosa. Though it is called flu, it is not related to influenza. The symptoms of stomach flu are watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, low grade fever, nausea and vomiting. It spreads through close contact with an infected person or from ingesting any contaminated food and water. The condition is usually not a serious problem but in infants and children, it might be dangerous.

Causes

  • Norovirus is the most common cause of stomach flu in both adults and children worldwide and Rotavirus mostly affects the infants and children.
  • There are other causes for gastroenteritis than viral such as toxins, food poisoning, bacteria such as shigella, salmonella, parasites, etc.
  • Intake of contaminated food and water.
  • Close contact with an infected person.
  • The main mode of transmission is feco-oral route

Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Body pain
  • Loss of thirst and appetite
  • Dryness of mouth and throat
  • Abdominal pain
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Low-grade fever

Duration

Once contracted, the infection may present with the symptoms within one to three days. It usually lasts up to three days but when severe, it may last up to ten days.

Risk factors

  • Infants and children especially those in the child care centre and schools
  • Older people as they have weak immune system
  • People living together in a group or community centres and confined areas
  • People with weak immune system as a result of chronic disease conditions such as cancer, HIV, etc
  • Certain weather conditions

Complications

Dehydration is the main complication of stomach flu.

Prevention and management of stomach flu

  • Avoid contact with the infected person.
  • Washing the hands thoroughly after using the toilet.
  • Teaching the children to wash their hands regularly after coming from the
  • school, after using the washroom with a hand wash or sanitizer and to carry a hand sanitizer with them.
  • Clipping the nails regularly.
  • Avoid sharing glasses and plates.
  • Avoid sharing towels and personal items.
  • Regular disinfection of the toilets and floors.
  • Avoid eating outside foods.
  • When traveling avoid meat, raw foods, undercooked and uncooked vegetables.
  • Drink water from well-sealed bottles.
  • Take plenty of water and keep hydrated.
  • Avoid heavy foods such as dairy products, fatty or highly-seasoned foods and stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, etc.
  • Disinfect the countertops, doorknobs, handles, sinks, toilets, computer keyboards and phones used by infected person.
  • Wash the laundry of those recovering from the stomach flu separately.
  • Avoid untreated water and fluids like milk
  • Oral rehydration solutions and electrolyte solution can be given to restore the lost minerals and salts.
  • Take BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast as these are easy to digest and have enough carbohydrates to give energy, and replace the lost nutrients.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Homeopathic Remedies for Stomach Flu

Antimonium crudum: It is indicated for stomach flu when there is vomiting immediately after eating or drinking. The tongue is coated white. Constant belching and complaints from overeating or eating indigestible substance.

Arsenicum: It is the best homeopathic remedy for stomach flu where the patient cannot bear sight or smell of food. Tenderness and burning pain in abdomen relieved by warmth. It is also a useful remedy in cases of food poisoning. Vomiting and diarrhoea especially after midnight. Frequent attacks of offensive smelling diarrhea. Very restless, feels uncomfortable being in one position for too long.

Bryonia: It is indicated when the stomach feels heavy after eating and is too sensitive to touch. Excessive thirst for cold water and the person vomits after taking warm drinks. Bitter eructations and vomiting of bile or water.

Ignatia: It is a remedy indicated for gastritis with rumbling in the bowels and sour eructations. The patient craves food which doesn’t agree with them.

Ipecac: It is one of the best homeopathic remedy for stomach flu in children where there is constant nausea, increased salivation and gripping colic. The tongue is clean. The complaints are worse from smell of food. Persistent nausea with frequent diarrhea. Increased salivation and painful urgings to have a stool which is greenish in colour.

Nux vomica: It is also a great remedy for stomach flu from rich highly seasoned foods. The complaints are heartburn, sour eructations, bloating of abdomen, empty retching and headache. The patient feels tired, drowsy and irritable. Complaints after over-work, overeating, use of alcohol, coffee or other drugs. It is good remedy to treat hangovers.

Phosphorus: It is indicated when there is too much vomiting and diarrhea, burning pain in abdomen with weakness and restlessness. Sour, bitter taste in mouth with nausea worse from warm drinks. Great thirst for cold water but is vomited as soon as it becomes warm in the stomach. Sensation of emptiness and weakness in abdomen.

Pulsatilla: It is a great remedy for heartburn, dry mouth with bad taste, sensation of heaviness after eating. The tongue is coated thick. Tenderness of abdomen, the patient prefers loose clothing around abdomen. Aversion to fatty foods with indigestion. Diarrhea after eating greasy rich foods, cold, iced food or drinks, or after exposure to cold. The diarrhea is worse at night.

Podophyllum: This medicine is very useful in traveler’s diarrhoea. Offensive diarrhea and vomiting. The symptoms are worse in the morning and during hot summer days. Gurgling sounds in the abdomen and bowels. Diarrhea immediately after eating. Very restless at night with grinding of their teeth. Tenderness and soreness over the liver area which feels better by rubbing or from lying on the abdomen. There is an empty, sinking feeling in the abdomen.

Aethusa: It is one of the best homeopathic remedy for gastritis and intolerance of milk in infants and children. The children are unable to digest the milk which leads to colic, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Regurgitation of the milk and food within an hour of eating or drinking. The symptoms are violent with projectile vomiting. Vomiting of yellow or green curds.

Chamomilla: It is indicated for vomiting and diarrhea in infants and children. The child is very irritable, kicks and screams. Greenish diarrhea with undigested food. Distension of the abdomen which is very sensitive to touch. It is usually indicated for infants during teething for dentition diarrhea.

Cinchona: It is a best homeopathic remedy for frequent diarrhea with distension of abdomen. The diarrhea is worse at night and is very sudden that it may be expelled without warning. Abdomen is too distended and tight as a drum. The complaints are accompanied by sour and loud belching.

Colocynthis: It is indicated for sharp cramping pains with diarrhea immediately after eating or drinking water. The colicky pains are relieved by the passing of flatus, stool, or bending over. They have frequent urging for a stool. Severe cutting pain in abdomen causing the person to double up which is better by strong pressure and warmth.

Iris: It is indicated for headache with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Diarrhea with colic and burning sensation at the anus.

Mercurius: It is a very useful remedy for severe diarrhea from food poisoning. Burning, watery stools which is stained with blood sometimes. Offensive diarrhea with colicky pain before, during, or after a stool. Constant urging, the anus is raw from burning stools. The symptoms are worse in the evening and at night.

Veratrum album: This is one of the best remedy for all kinds of diarrhea. Watery stools with nausea and vomiting with cold shivers and cold sweats. Cramping of abdomen and extremities. Extreme coldness of the body with an unquenchable thirst for ice cold drinks. Great hunger for cold foods and an aversion to warm foods. Intolerance to fruits as it triggers diarrhea.

Some of the best products for Stomach flu are Schwabe India’s, Alpha-DP, Alpha-Liv, Kindigest, Alpha-Acid, Biocombination No. 03, Biocombination No. 08, Biocombination No. 25, Holarrhena antidysenterica 1x, etc.

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