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What is the “Stomach Flu”?

Gina Benson BSN, RN, PHN Triage Nurse

Lac Courte Oreilles Community Health Center

The “stomach flu”, also called gastroenteritis, is a viral intestinal infection that is caused by contact with an infected person or through a source of contaminated food or water. The symptoms include stomach ache/cramps, nausea and vomiting, watery diarrhea and low grade fever (98.6˚F-100.5˚F) and mild muscle aches. These symptoms typically present 1-3 days after exposure and can last up to 10 days. Since gastroenteritis is a viral infection, there is no antibiotic treatment course for this. Treatment consists of treating the symptoms. For nausea and vomiting, staying hydrated is important; take small frequent sips of water, power-aid, Gatorade, ginger ale, pedialyte or suck on ice chips. Power aid, Gatorade and pedialyte will help replace electrolytes lost during excessive vomiting. For any pain/fever you can take Tylenol or ibuprofen as directed, if you can take it with a small amount of food that would be the best. Diarrhea should only last 1-2 days and it is not recommended to use an antidiarrheal at this point. Once the diarrhea has stopped, resume a diet of soft, bland foods until your stools are back to normal. You should seek care at an urgent care or emergency room if you develop any of the following:


*You are not able to keep ANY fluids down for 24 hours

*Excessive vomiting for more than 2 days. *You are vomiting blood

*You have blood in your stool *You have a fever of over 104˚F

*You are dehydrated

Infants and children:

*Fever over 102˚F *Bloody diarrhea

*Seems lethargic or EXTREMELY irritable *Appears in pain or discomfort

*Appears dehydrated (dry mouth/lip, no tears when crying, sunken soft spot on head, poor or no oral intake, no or decrease in number of wet diapers)

Please remember that you are still responsible for contacting Purchased and Referred Care (PRC) following your Urgent Care or Emergency Room visit. You must call in to the Emergency Room Reporting Line at 715-638-5137 within 72 hours of discharge from that facility.

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