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10 Home Remedies For Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu) + Prevention Tips



Norovirus causes 685 million cases of acute gastroenteritis worldwide (1). Out of these, it affects 200 million children below the age of 5 and leads to an estimated 50,000 child deaths annually!


The fact that there is no specific treatment to manage this infection makes the situation unpleasant. However, the remedies in this post may help ease the symptoms of gastroenteritis. Read on to know more.


Note: If the condition persists beyond a week, please visit your healthcare provider immediately to test for any underlying causes.



What Is Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)?


Gastroenteritis is a viral or bacterial infection that is characterized by symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. It causes inflammation of the stomach lining and intestines and is commonly referred to as stomach flu.


One of the most common ways in which you can contract gastroenteritis is through direct contact with an infected person or ingesting contaminated food/water.


Healthy individuals often recover from this condition without any complications. However, for those with a weak immune system, like infants and older adults, gastroenteritis can prove to be life-threatening.


Let us now look at the common causes of gastroenteritis.



What Causes Gastroenteritis?


The most common cause of gastroenteritis is a virus. It can be triggered by various kinds of viruses like rotavirus and norovirus.


Although not as common, gastroenteritis may also be triggered by bacteria like E. coli, shigella, and salmonella.


Gastroenteritis can also be caused by certain parasites like giardia and cryptosporidium, which are commonly found in contaminated swimming pools.


Some factors that can further increase your risk of developing gastroenteritis are discussed below.


  1. Age – Infants and older adults are at a higher risk of contracting gastroenteritis.
  2. Weakened immunity due to an ongoing medical condition.
  3. Drinking water that is contaminated with heavy metals like arsenic, lead, or mercury.
  4. Increased consumption of acidic foods.
  5. Eating seafood contaminated with toxins.
  6. Certain medications like antibiotics, antacids, chemotherapy drugs, and laxatives.


If you have gastroenteritis, you are quite likely to exhibit the following signs and symptoms.



Signs And Symptoms Of Gastroenteritis


The signs and symptoms of gastroenteritis may include:


  1. Watery diarrhea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Stomach pain
  4. Fever
  5. Nausea
  6. Cramping
  7. Headache
  8. Dehydration
  9. Dry skin and mouth
  10. Lightheadedness
  11. Increased thirst


In infants, you may look for signs of fewer and drier diapers. Thirst and a dry mouth and skin can also be common indications of stomach flu in infants. If you doubt that you or your little one has gastroenteritis, waste no time in seeing a doctor immediately.



How To Test For Gastroenteritis


The doctor is quite likely to diagnose gastroenteritis based on the symptoms exhibited by the patient on physical examination.


If a viral cause is suspected, the doctor may suggest a stool test to detect rotavirus or norovirus. A stool test can also help rule out a possible parasitic or bacterial infection.


Once the cause of gastroenteritis is determined, the doctor may prescribe treatment accordingly.



Medical Treatments


The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the person has contracted bacterial gastroenteritis. Some over-the-counter medications can be taken to manage the symptoms. However, if the cause is viral, there is no specific medical treatment to help with the condition. The doctor may suggest some self-care measures to overcome stomach flu faster in such cases.


The following are some home remedies that can speed up your recovery from gastroenteritis naturally.



Home Remedies For Gastroenteritis


  1. Apple Cider Vinegar
  2. Probiotic Yogurt
  3. Honey
  4. Ginger
  5. Turmeric
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Rice Water
  8. Chamomile Tea
  9. Lemon
  10. Green Banana


1. Apple Cider Vinegar


Apple cider vinegar possesses powerful antimicrobial properties against microbes like E. coli and may be able to help with bacterial gastroenteritis (2).


You Will Need


  1. 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar
  2. 1 cup of warm water


What You Have To Do


  1. Add a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a cup of water.
  2. Mix well and drink the solution.


How Often You Should Do This


You may drink this once daily until you notice an improvement in your symptoms.



2. Probiotic Yogurt


Probiotic yogurt can help restore the gut flora. This can help reduce the inflammation in the lining of the intestine. It can also help improve non-inflammatory gastroenteritis (3).


You Will Need


A bowl of probiotic yogurt


What You Have To Do


Consume a bowl of probiotic yogurt.


How Often You Should Do This


You can consume this once daily.


Caution: Do not proceed with this remedy if you are allergic to lactic acid.



3. Honey


The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of honey can speed up your recovery from gastroenteritis while reducing the duration of its symptoms (4).


You Will Need


  1. 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey
  2. 1 cup of water


What You Have To Do


  1. Add one to two teaspoons of raw honey to a cup of water.
  2. Mix well and drink the solution.
  3. You can also add honey to the oral rehydration solution (ORS) being given to your child.


How Often You Should Do This


You may do this 2-3 times daily.


Caution: Honey should not be given to children below 1 year due to the risk of developing botulism.



4. Ginger


Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This can help reduce the inflammatory symptoms associated with gastrointestinal disorders like gastroenteritis (5).


You Will Need


  1. 1 inch of sliced ginger
  2. 1 cup of water


What You Have To Do


  1. Add an inch of sliced ginger to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer for a few minutes and strain.


How Often You Should Do This


You may drink ginger tea twice daily.



5. Turmeric


Curcumin, the major component of turmeric, exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These activities of curcumin impart gastroprotective effects to turmeric that can help in the treatment of gastroenteritis and its inflammatory symptoms (6).


You Will Need


  1. 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  2. 1 glass of hot milk


What You Have To Do


  1. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of hot milk.
  2. Mix well and drink the mixture.


How Often You Should Do This


You may do this once daily.



6. Cinnamon


Cinnamon is a multifaceted herb with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties (7). Hence, it may help with gastroenteritis and speed up your recovery.


You Will Need


  1. An inch of cinnamon stick
  2. 1 cup of water
  3. Honey (as required)


What You Have To Do


  1. Add a cinnamon stick to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes and strain.
  4. Allow the tea to warm a bit before drinking it.


How Often You Should Do This


You may drink this 1-2 times daily.



7. Rice Water


Rice water can be used as an alternative to ORS in infants with gastroenteritis as it can cut down the number of stools (diarrhea) (8).


You Will Need


A cup of rice water


What You Have To Do


  1. Strain the remaining water after your rice has cooled completely.
  2. Feed small amounts of rice water to your infant after every watery bowel movement they have had.
  3. You can also drink rice water to deal with gastroenteritis.


How Often You Should Do This


You may do this multiple times daily until the symptoms begin improving.



8. Chamomile Tea


Chamomile is popularly used as a digestive relaxant and can help in the treatment of many gastrointestinal disturbances, like diarrhea and vomiting, which often accompany gastroenteritis (9).


You Will Need


  1. 1 teaspoon of chamomile tea
  2. 1 cup of hot water


What You Have To Do


  1. Add a teaspoon of chamomile tea to a cup of hot water.
  2. Steep for a few minutes and strain.
  3. Drink the warm concoction.


How Often You Should Do This


You may drink this 1-2 times daily.



9. Lemon


Lemons are rich sources of citrate, which can be used in the treatment of viral gastroenteritis caused by norovirus (10).


You Will Need


  1. ½ lemon
  2. 1 glass of water


What You Have To Do


  1. Squeeze out the juice from a lemon into a glass of water.
  2. Mix well and drink the juice.


How Often You Should Do This


You may do this once daily.



10. Green Banana


Green banana is a rich source of pectin and can help reduce symptoms of gastroenteritis, like diarrhea, in children. It can also help in speeding up recovery from the condition (11).


You Will Need


  1. 1 green or unripe banana
  2. Water (as required)


What You Have To Do


  1. Boil a green banana with its skin in water.
  2. Simmer for 7-10 minutes and switch off the stove.
  3. Allow the banana to cool down a bit and remove its skin.
  4. Mash the fruit and add salt to taste.
  5. Consume alone or with rice.


How Often You Should Do This


You may have to do this 1-2 times daily until your symptoms show an improvement.


Try the remedies listed above to manage the symptoms of gastroenteritis and accelerate your recovery from the infection. Given below are a few tips to avoid contracting stomach flu.


How To Prevent Stomach Flu


  1. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  2. Get your child vaccinated against rotavirus.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly before eating and after using the loo.
  4. Do not share personal utensils with an infected person until he/she recovers.
  5. Avoid drinking chilled water.
  6. Do not consume raw meat or raw foods like sushi.
  7. Disinfect all the hard surfaces at your home if any of your family members have gastroenteritis.
  8. Avoid sending your child to the daycare centre until they recover completely to prevent the infection from spreading.
  9. Get ample rest and sleep well.


As already discussed, there is no specific medical treatment for gastroenteritis. Rest and hydration, coupled with the remedies mentioned above, can help in speeding up your recovery from gastroenteritis without any further complications.


Infants and older adults who have stomach flu should be given extra care as this infection can prove to be life-threatening, given their compromised immunity.


Contact a doctor immediately if your symptoms worsen, or you develop a high fever (>102o F), are unable to keep liquids down for more than 24 hours or exhibit signs of dehydration, vomit blood, or have bloody diarrhea.



Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions


Q. Is stomach flu going around?


A. Stomach flu can infect any healthy individual. Its symptoms usually develop 12-48 hours after exposure to the microbes. Viral gastroenteritis is very common during winters.


Q. Is gastroenteritis contagious?


A. Yes, gastroenteritis is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected person or surface. It can also spread through contaminated food and water.


Q. How long does gastroenteritis last?


A. The symptoms of gastroenteritis usually appear 1-3 days post-exposure to the infection. Its symptoms usually last for 1-2 days but may go on to last for even 10 days in some individuals.


Q. Are the stomach flu and food poisoning the same thing?


A. Stomach flu is commonly caused by a viral infection, while food poisoning may be caused by a range of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. While stomach flu can be transmitted via contaminated food/water or by direct contact with an infected person, food poisoning usually occurs due to the cross-contamination of food items with troublesome microbes.


Q. Will the above remedies help in the treatment of stomach flu in kids?


A. Check with your doctor to find out which of the above remedies is safe for your infant. Most of the remedies are relatively safe for kids above 1 year.


Q. What is the difference between gastritis and gastroenteritis?


A. Gastritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the stomach lining. Underlying medical conditions like Crohn’s disease and sarcoidosis can trigger this condition. Gastritis can also be a result of a bacterial infection or an injury to your stomach lining due to your dietary choices.


On the other hand, gastroenteritis is a stomach infection that is commonly caused by viruses. However, in some cases, gastroenteritis may also be caused by a bacterial or parasitic infection.


Both these conditions lead to the inflammation of the stomach lining and cause symptoms like nausea and vomiting. However, gastroenteritis is more severe and can prove to be life-threatening to people with a weak immune system.


Q. What to eat when you have the stomach flu?


A. If you have the stomach flu, it is very important to keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids like soups, rice water, and ORS. You may suck on some ice chips if you have trouble keeping the fluids down.


You can also give the BRAT diet a try, which stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. This diet can help in firming your stool and treating diarrhea (12).



Sources:


  1. “Norovirus.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 June 2018.
    https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/trends-outbreaks/worldwide.html
  2. Yagnik, Darshna et al. “Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression.” Scientific reports vol. 8,1 1732. 29 Jan. 2018.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/
  3. Heydarian, Farhad et al. “A comparison between traditional yogurt and probiotic yogurt in non-inflammatory acute gastroenteritis.” Saudi medical journal vol. 31,3 (2010): 280-3.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20231933
  4. Abdulrhman, Mamdouh Abdulmaksoud et al. “Bee honey added to the oral rehydration solution in treatment of gastroenteritis in infants and children.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 13,3 (2010): 605-9.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20438327
  5. Nikkhah Bodagh, Mehrnaz et al. “Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials.” Food science & nutrition vol. 7,1 96-108. 5 Nov. 2018.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6341159/
  6. Yadav, Santosh Kumar et al. “Turmeric (curcumin) remedies gastroprotective action.” Pharmacognosy reviews vol. 7,13 (2013): 42-6.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731878/
  7. Shen, Yan et al. “Beneficial effects of cinnamon on the metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and pain, and mechanisms underlying these effects – a review.” Journal of traditional and complementary medicine vol. 2,1 (2012): 27-32.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3943007/
  8. Wong, H B. “Rice water in treatment of infantile gastroenteritis.” Lancet (London, England) vol. 2,8237 (1981): 102-3.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6113434
  9. Srivastava, Janmejai K et al. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” Molecular medicine reports vol. 3,6 (2010): 895-901.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
  10. Koromyslova, Anna D et al. “Treatment of norovirus particles with citrate.” Virology vol. 485 (2015): 199-204.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26295280
  11. Rabbani, G H et al. “Clinical studies in persistent diarrhea: dietary management with green banana or pectin in Bangladeshi children.” Gastroenterology vol. 121,3 (2001): 554-60.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11522739
  12. Nemeth, Valerie, Hassam Zulfiqar, and Nicholas Pfleghaar. “Diarrhea.” StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2019.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448082/

Important Notice: This article was originally published at www.stylecraze.com by Pooja Karkala where all credits are due. Medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Mercier, ND, Ph.D.

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