Stomach Flu

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Stomach flu is very common, yet often is misunderstood. “Stomach flu” is a general term for gastroenteritis and isn’t related to influenza or flu, which primarily affects the respiratory system.

Stomach flu typically is caused by viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus and other viruses that affect your gastrointestinal system. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach or intestines often caused by the norovirus.

Often called the “24-hour flu,” symptoms typically resolve within a few days for most people. If you are infected, you still can spread the virus for a few days after your symptoms go away. Those who are older and people with weakened immune systems may experience more severe cases.

Stomach flu can cause vomiting or diarrhea several times a day and lead to dehydration. Young children and older people are particularly susceptible to dehydration. A dehydrated child may cry with few or no tears and be especially fussy and sleepy. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency.

Stomach Flu Symptoms

Norovirus infection typically causes gastroenteritis. Stomach flu is highly contagious, especially in the winter months and around holidays when people are inside and can spread germs through contaminated food, water and surfaces.

Common symptoms of stomach flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:

Other symptoms such as fever, headache and muscle aches also can accompany norovirus infection.

Keep in mind, stomach flu symptoms are similar to those caused by other infections such as food poisoning, bacterial infection and certain medications.

Norton Now includes same-day care options so you can get the care you need, when you need it and where you need it. Norton Community Medical Associates primary care offices are located across the Louisville and Southern Indiana area. Save your spot in line at a Norton Immediate Care Center or visit a Norton Prompt Care clinic for treatment of minor injuries or illnesses.

Use Norton eCare video visits or just answer a few questions online from anywhere in Kentucky or Indiana for care without coming into the office. Your provider can order drive-thru lab testing for you at Norton Healthcare Express Services if it’s needed.

When to Seek Medical Care

Viral gastroenteritis usually runs a limited course and resolves on its own without professional or medical treatment. Home remedies include staying hydrated to replace liquids lost from vomiting and diarrhea. Drink water, clear sports drinks, clear sodas and clear broth to stay hydrated. Adults can use over-the-counter anti-nausea medicines and pain relievers. Check with your child’s pediatrician before giving any medications to young children.

If you or someone in your care is experiencing these symptoms, seek medical care immediately:

  • Signs of dehydration: decreased or no urine production, dry mouth or skin, no tears, weakness or lightheadedness
  • Fever of 101.5 F or greater, or a persistent fever lasting four to five days
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomit
  • Severe or increasing abdominal pain
  • New or worsening symptoms
  • Symptoms lasting more than four or five days

Dehydration in children can happen quickly. Keep a close watch for signs which include dry mouth, dry skin, thirst, and diapers that show little to no urine.

Prevent the Spread of a Stomach Virus

Currently, there’s not a vaccination for norovirus illness. However, you can help prevent a norovirus outbreak and transmission by following these steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before eating or cooking, and after touching someone who has the norovirus. Avoid food preparation until you’ve recovered from stomach flu.
  • Isolate to prevent the virus from spreading to family members in your household, and don’t go out in public until you feel better.
  • Keep children at home and out of day care and school until they have recovered.
  • When cleaning items and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus, make sure to clean thoroughly with a disinfectant that includes bleach.

To reduce the risk of contracting stomach flu, it’s important to practice good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, and to take precautions in settings where these viruses can spread easily, such as crowded or closed environments.

Norton Now: Care When You Need It

  • Get medical care when and where it works for you.
    • Norton Community Medical Associates primary care is your medical home. More than 35 locations across the Louisville area and Southern Indiana means there’s an office close to home, work or school. Your primary care physician knows you and your health and performs annual checkups to stay ahead of any emerging conditions. Our doctors and nurse practitioners connect you to the full Norton Healthcare system, giving you and your family easy access to the area’s leading specialty physicians.
    • More than 15 Norton Immediate Care Centers offer treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. Reserve your spot in line and we’ll text you when it’s time to check in. All Norton Immediate Care Centers are equipped with X-ray machines.
    • Norton Prompt Care clinics have same-day appointments available when you need care for yourself or your family. All locations offer extended weekday and weekend hours. Many are located within Walgreens stores.
    • Norton eCare allows you to visit with a provider via secure video or by simply answering questions online about your symptoms.
    • Emergency care is available for a very serious illness or injury that puts your life in danger. Get treatment 24/7 at nine locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana, including three locations for kids.
  • Medicaid, Medicare and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Get test results, renew prescriptions, communicate with your health care provider, get notified if an earlier appointment becomes available and more with your free Norton MyChart account.

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