Stomach Flu, also called gastroenteritis, is general term for various inflammatory problems in the gastrointestinal tract. Most stomach flu are contagious and is caused by a virus. The main complication of viral gastroenteritis is dehydration — a severe loss of water and essential salts and minerals. People with weakened immune system are more susceptibe to this complication.

Causes of Gastroenteritis

  • Contagious Causes – Stomach Flu is commonly cause by a virus or bacteria. It can be spread from one person to another through eating food and drinking water contaminated by the microbe.
  • Non-Contagious Causes – Includes food allergies, parasites, drugs, toxins, or the side effects of medications.

Although it may resemble the symptoms, Gastroenteritis is different from food poisoning and Influenza.

Symptoms may depend on the cause of the stomach flu, nevertheless, they may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis are:

  • Watery, Usually Nonbloody Diarrhea
  • Bloody Diarrhea (Indication of a More Severe Infection)
  • Abdominal Cramps and Pain
  • Nausea, Vomiting or Both
  • Occasional Muscle Aches or Headache
  • Low-Grade Fever


To diagnose stomach flu, your doctor will likely ask your symptoms and if there are similar cases in the community. He or she might also perform a physical and may ask you to submit a tool sample to verify the presence of bacteria or virus infection. Rapid stool test may help detect a rotavirus or norovirus.



Most mild stomach flu requires no treatment and may be improve through diet and proper hygiene. Treatment may focus on avoiding dehydration, the worst complication of diarrhea. Antibiotics may help for bacteria causes but aren’t effective against virus so treatment for stomach flu may initially consist of self-care measures. Some doctors recommend BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) to people recovering from gastroenteritis.



It is important to practice proper hygiene to avoid stomach flu especially when travelling to other countries which have an outbreak of the disease. This may include:

  • Hand Washing
  • Not Eating Undercooked Food
  • Drinking Contaminated Water
  • Avoiding Direct Contact With Individuals with the Disease
  • Getting a Vaccine (For Example, Vaccine Against Cholera – Causing Bacteria)

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