With flu season fully underway, families might be worried about the stomach flu – and with good reason. This virus is extremely contagious for your family and the can live up to two weeks on surfaces. That's troubling since this is one of the most common childhood outbreaks. When different members get sick and pass on the contagion, there's no quick, easy relief until the disease has run its course. Let's learn about the stomach flu, its causes and what home remedies for stomach flu you can use before your child becomes seriously ill.
Stomach Flu vs. Standard Flu
What people actually call the "stomach flu" is not related to influenza, the flu virus. Officially, it's called gastroenteritis. While the flu primarily affects a person's respiratory systems, the stomach flu attacks the gastrointestinal tract. While both are caused by viruses, that's where the similarities end.
It's important to know that when dealing with the stomach flu, symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain
Gastroenteritis itself can be caused by two different viruses: norovirus or rotavirus. According to the Mayo Clinic, norovirus causes most of the cases in kids and adults and often lasts just a few days – up to three, and you're contagious that entire time, even if you don't have symptoms anymore. However, babies and young children tend to get the stomach flu from a rotavirus and can be contagious before symptoms appear for up to two weeks after recovery.
Home Remedies That Prevent Stomach Flu
The biggest complication of gastroenteritis is dehydration but the worst problem can be stomach flu contagion! For example, it's hard to keep away from the virus when you're changing diapers frequently. The best precaution thing to do is prevention. Let's discover some of the home remedies that can prevent the stomach flu.
1. A healthy gut and proper probiotics.
Having a healthy gut is important for many reasons, but using an appropriate probiotic strain regularly can be a good foundation for optimal health. While it is unclear whether a balanced gut can fend off this virus, a healthy gut will help you get back to health more quickly once it has run its course. You can also help keep your child's gut health by incorporating fermented foods into their diet.
2. Apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is famous for anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. However, it also can help with nausea, so it's a good treatment once you are sick as well. This is one of the versatile home remedies you can use and may help prevent stomach flu.
3. Quarantine sick family member.
As mentioned, the worst part of the stomach flu is contagion. This means you must be meticulous to quarantine a sick family member from others. Don't let them share towels or blankets or other objects. You may want to provide this child with his own utensils as well. For younger children, keep track of any toys that are mouthed as well, to thoroughly clean them too.
Home Remedies For Stomach Flu
If preventing the stomach flu has failed, you can still help your child. Treatment is simple since the stomach flu commonly clears up on its own. However, your child can get dehydrated and a weakened immune system can make them vulnerable to other viruses, colds or allergies. These simple home remedies for stomach flu should help your child recover:
1. Keep Hydrated
The biggest danger of the stomach flu is that it can quickly dehydrate a child. Because of their upset stomach, your child might not want any liquids. That's fine for a little while, but once their stomach seems a little settled, you will need to give them water. Of course, we recommend purified water. If your child really can't drink it, be sure to give her drops of water from time to time to stave off dehydration. If your child is still struggling, you might want to try rehydration salts, which is one of the essential remedies every family should have in their medicine cabinets.
2. Seltzer Water
One of the age-old home remedies for stomach flu, seltzer can relieve pent-up gas if your child is not feeling the urge to vomit or have diarrhea. Be sure to buy plain seltzer with no flavor or additives.
This can help nausea as well while your child is sick. Kids can chew on a ginger root or you can make ginger tea if your child will tolerate a hot drink. You can also try ginger ale soda if all else fails.
4. Peppermint Essential Oil
Essential oils can help children with many different illnesses. For the stomach flu, diffused peppermint oil can bring also relief, including reducing painful stomach cramps. Dilute 2-3 drops in a diffuser for children only over the age of three. For younger children, avoid peppermint, but you can try spearmint essential oil.
5. BRAT Diet
Banana, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast are the components of the BRAT diet that you can feed your child once he starts to get hungry. You can also try plain bland crackers if he needs something sooner.
6. Activated Charcoal
This is one of those home remedies for stomach flu that will make your child vomit. This helps his body process the virus more quickly. It is not recommended for children under the age of three, so you should use it sparingly even for older kids. Adults can take 2 capsules a few times a day, but I wouldn't use more than 1 capsule a day, spread over time, for children.
7. Don't Mind The Fever
A fever won't normally get too high with gastroenteritis. Just let it run its course unless it breaks 104 degrees or more.
Fear Of Vomiting
Many kids may experience fear of throwing up, especially if they have had frequent vomiting due to the stomach bug. It can actually develop into emetophobia, a common phobia for adults. Try to soothe and relax your child. You can firmly but gently hold your child by their sides to comfort them while they are throwing up. It's important to remain calm throughout the crisis so as not to trigger any additional fears.
Tips For Cleaning During And After The Stomach Flu
Your next biggest challenge is finding a safe way to clean and fight the germs. The rotavirus that causes stomach flu in younger children is extremely difficult to kill and can live for days on surfaces that an infected child has touched.
The CDC recommends using bleach to do all cleaning as it is guaranteed to be effective in killing the norovirus, but it might be too harsh for your family. Some tips for safeguarding your family include:
- Use a safe cleaning product that can balance good and bad bacteria.
- Wash linens frequently in hot water.
- If you do choose to use bleach, at least us chlorine-free brand.
- Use rubber gloves for handling infected clothing and items, cleaning and for changing diapers.
- Clean items immediately so germs don't spread.
- Clean "splash radius" around your toilet bowl after a child gets sick.
- Wash laundry in hot water with detergent or Borax immediately
- Use baking soda to remove stains from carpeting and fabrics.
As the stomach flu spreads among kids and families this cold and flu season, you can take steps to ensure that your family does not suffer too much or too long. Hopefully, these home remedies for stomach flu will keep your family safe. Keep an eye on your family for the first symptoms and your child should be fine within a few days.
Written by Gina Badalaty for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.