Gastroenteritis means inflammation of the stomach and small and large intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection caused by a variety of viruses that results in vomiting and diarrhea. It is often called the "stomach bug" or the "stomach flu" although it is not caused by the influenza viruses.
How to Treat:
Fluids are important but can only be taken in relatively small quantities frequently; large amounts at a time stretch the stomach and trigger vomiting. Anti-nausea medications such as Phenergan and Compazine can help, but do require a prescription. Hold off on solid foods for about 2 days to give the lining of the stomach and intestines time to heal. Start back with very bland foods such as the BRAT diet, then move up. [BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, toast]
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications:
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications that you can get from the Northeast State Health Clinic or your local pharmacy or grocery store include:
Anti-diarrheal preparations of bismuth subsalicylate (e.g., Pepto-Biosmol) or Loperamide (Immodium) can reduce the duration and severity of simple diarrhea. These medications should be avoided if you have a high fever or blood in the stools because they may make the illness worse.
Pain reliever/fever reducer Acetaminophen can make you more comfortable. Ibuprofen is not recommended as it can cause further stomach upset.
Your body needs fluids to function. Diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration.
Symptoms of dehydration: Excessive thirst, dry mouth, little urine or dark yellow urine, severe weakenss, dizziness or lightheadedness. Mild dehydration can be treated by drinking liquids. Sip small amounts of clear liquids frequently. Try ice chips, sips of water, flat ginger ale or 7-Up, weak tea, diluted apple juice, Gatorade, clear soups, Jell-O. Severe dehydration may require intravenous fluids which can dramatically help patients quickly.
If you are at school and get sick, come to the Health Clinic. Hours and contact information: www.NortheastState.edu/HealthServices
Call your doctor if you experience:
- Stools containing blood or black stools
- Temperature over 101.5 F for more than 24 hours
- Prolonged vomiting
- Signs of dehydration
- Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
Sources of Free or Reduced Cost Health Care
Wash your hands frequently!
For more information:
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)