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How to Cope With Stomach Flu Symptoms

Doctor offers tips to aid patients' recovery

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 12, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- If you get the stomach flu (also known as viral gastroenteritis), there are a number of things you can do to cope with the illness, an expert suggests.

"This virus causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and head and muscle aches. Although the virus itself most often is not a serious health threat, it can cause serious complications like dehydration, which can be especially dangerous for young children and older adults," Dr. Christopher Zipp, a family physician at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's School of Osteopathic Medicine, said in a university news release.

Zipp offered the following tips for coping with stomach flu:

  • Avoid dehydration by consuming plenty of fluids. The best choices are water or half-strength juices. It's best to avoid sodas or sports drinks, but they can be given to people who can't tolerate the recommended fluids.
  • Relieve body aches and fever by taking over-the-counter, non-aspirin pain relievers such as acetaminophen, as directed.
  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Take steps to prevent spread of the virus. Throw away used tissues immediately and wash your hands often. Soiled bed linens or clothes should be washed separately from other laundry.
  • Make sure you're fully recovered before heading back to work or school. People with the stomach flu can still be contagious for up to 72 hours after they feel better.

"Keep in mind that this illness is caused by a virus. Antibiotics, which work against bacterial infections, will not help you to recover," Zipp explained.

"Most people will begin to feel better after a couple of days, but don't hesitate to contact your physician if you or a family member experiences extreme symptoms, such as uncontrolled vomiting or a high fever that persists and does not respond to over-the-counter medications," he added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about viral gastroenteritis.

SOURCE: University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, news release, Jan. 7, 2011
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