Stomach Flu Survival

There are few things more unpleasant than the stomach flu.  That  crippling nausea, the stomach and intestinal cramps and the frantic rush to the bathroom are sheer misery.

Sometimes this type of illness is caused by a virus and at other times it isn’t a virus at all, but food poisoning.  According to Lizzie Bennett of Medically Speaking,

“A non-food stomach flu is usually caused by a virus, often a norovirus,  rotavirus  or more rarely campylobacter.  It will usually occur after contact  with someone who as been unwell  but most often is brought home by school children. People will generally feel ‘ under the weather’ and then the gastric upset starts. it often is accompanied by vomiting .
With food poisoning there is an acute onset, it occurs quite quickly after eating/drinking contaminated food and will often affect  people who have eaten the same dish or who have eaten in the same place. Only lab testing will ascertain definitively what the cause is  as the symptoms are so very similar.”

The symptoms can be relieved identically. Often, you’ll never know which was the cause.  If the symptoms are especially severe or continue for more than 48 hours, the standard advice is to seek medical attention.

A stomach virus is incredibly contagious.  If a family member is suffering from the symptoms of a stomach virus, practice the following precautions to attempt to contain it:

  • Isolate the family member as much as possible
  • Wash cutlery and dishes used by the sick family member in water containing a couple of drops of bleach.  Wash again with your regular, non-toxic dish soap.
  • Wipe items handled by the sick person with antibacterial wipes (I keep Clorox wipes on hand for this purpose.)  Things like the telephone, the television remote, door handles, faucets and the toilet flush should be wiped before someone else touches them.
  • Household members should wash their hands frequently, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom (yes, I know this should be standard, but I’m repeating it anyway)

Vomiting and diarrhea can be the body’s natural defense against invaders.  It can be the digestive system’s way of ridding itself of toxins and viruses.  However, excessive vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration, sometimes severe.  It’s very important to keep the sufferer hydrated with ice chips and clear fluids. You can find some recipes for homemade oral rehydration solutions HERE.  These recipes are a good basis for creating a solution using items that you have in your pantry.

Once the person is able to eat, try offering gentle, easily digested foods.  The “BRAT” diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and  toast.  Other options are saltine crackers, pretzels, mashed potatoes, pasta and clear soups.

If after 12 hours, if the patient is still unable to keep down liquids, medical attention should be sought.  The time shortens for younger patients. If an infant isn’t urinating at least every two hours his little body is trying to hold onto liquids because he is dehydrated – you should seek immediate medical assistance in this case.

Treating the Symptoms

There are all sorts of options for treating gastro-intestinal upset, both traditional and chemical. In our home, chemical treatments are always a last resort.

Over-the-Counter Medications

We very rarely use chemical medications, but I do keep these on hand for extremely sparing use.

Anti-diarrheals

The most common type of anti-diarrheal is the compound Loperamide Hydrochloride (found in Immodium or Kaopectate). It works by  slowing the propulsion of intestinal contents by the intestinal muscles.

The most common side effects of loperamide are: stomach pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, sleepiness, fatigue and dehydration. According to the National Library of Medicine, loperamide hydrochloride can actually paralyze the intestines in a condition called paralytic ileus. This means that the intestines no longer participate in digestion and do not push the stool along for excretion.

Many natural practitioners feel that diarrhea should not be stopped – that the body is naturally ridding itself of viruses or toxins. As well, overuse of anti-diarrheals can result in a constipation so severe that medical intervention becomes necessary.

Anti-Nauseants

Anti-nauseants are also called anti-emetics.  The most popular brands contain  dimenhydrinate(found in Dramamine and Gravol).

According to the Alberta Health Services website, the medication (sold under the brand name Gravol in Canada) can have a number of side effects.  There has also been a noted problem with abuse of medications containing dimenhydriante, so those medications have been relegated to “behind the counter”.

At recommended doses, Gravol can cause drowsiness, dizziness and blurred vision. It can impair your concentration and motor coordination. For these reasons, you should use Gravol with caution if driving or doing other things that require you to be fully alert. It can be especially dangerous to combine it with alcohol and other depressant drugs.  Dry mouth, excitation and nervousness
(especially in children) are other side effects.   At lower doses, you can experience feelings of well-being and euphoria. At higher doses you can hallucinate. Taking Gravol with alcohol, codeine and other depressant drugs intensifies these effects. Large doses can cause sluggishness, paranoia, agitation, memory loss, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and difficulty swallowing and speaking.

 Natural Remedies

Treating the symptoms doesn’t necessarily require a trip to the pharmacy. Just like treatments for the seasonal flu, many good remedies can be found, already in your kitchen.   If you don’t already have these items on hand, they are excellent, multi-purpose additions to your stockpile.  Before using these or any other herbal supplements, perform due diligence in confirming potential interactions with any other drugs or supplements that person may be taking.  Some of these plants can be easily grown in a variety of climates, providing a constantly replenishing supply.

Ginger

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory with a long history in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of nausea, motion sickness and morning sickness.

Ginger can be found in the form of tea, the root itself or in tablets.  Keep in mind, though, if you are vomiting already, ginger, especially in the form of tea, can make the experience far more unpleasant because of worsened esophageal reflux.

When purchasing ginger tablets, read the ingredients carefully.  Gravol makes a “Natural Source” ginger chewable pill containing certified organic ginger.  I was really excited because you can find that in even the tiniest pharmacy.  However, upon closer inspection, the ingredients listed “aspartame” .  Ummm. NO, I won’t add a proven neurotoxin to my organic herbal remedy, thanks.

Several companies offer a ginger tablet remedy.  However, if you go over to the vitamin section, quite frequently you can find Ginger Root.  Buying it from the vitamin section, without the glossy anti-nausea advertising, can save you a hefty amount. I checked at my local pharmacy today and 90 Ginger Root capsules (500 mg) were the same price as the bottle of 20 “All-Natural Ginger” anti-nausea tablets.  Both were $8.99.  As well, the one in the supplement section had no additional ingredients aside from the gelatin capsule that encased the powder.

Chamomile

Chamomile has anti-spasmodic properties.  This makes a cup of chamomile tea a soothing treatment for a stomach upset that includes abdominal cramping, bloating, and gas.  It has a mild pleasant taste with a hint of “apple” flavor.

Mint

There are all different kinds of mint tea available.  The most common are peppermint, spearmint and wintergreen.  They all contain menthol, a volatile oil.  Menthol is the component that gives mint that “cooling” sensation.  Mint tea is anti-spasmodic, so will aid in relieving gas, cramping and bloating. Additionally, menthol has muscle relaxant properties that can help reduce vomiting.

Candy containing real peppermint oil can easily be carried in your purse for a mildly soothing effect.

Some people that suffer from acid reflux find that mint worsens the condition.

 Yogurt

Yogurt can’t be tolerated in all episodes of stomach and intestinal upsets.  However, yogurt with active cultures can help to rebalance the “good flora” in your stomach and intestinal tract, making it especially valuable for treating diarrhea.  Regular consumption of yogurt can actually prevent stomach viruses in the first place by making your digestive tract inhospitable to viruses.

Black Tea

Black tea is rich in tannins, which have been a longtime home treatment for diarrhea.  You can sweeten your tea but leave out the milk until you’re feeling better.

Goldenseal

Goldenseal capsules or extract can also be used in the treatment of diarrhea.   Goldenseal kills certain bacteria, like e coli, which can cause diarrhea.

*****

There isn’t really any way to “cure” a stomach virus – the illness must simply run its course.  The best things you can do are rest, keep hydrated and treat the symptoms to keep them at a tolerable level.

Do you have any treatments for upset stomachs that you’ve found effective?  Please share them in the comments below.

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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29 Comments  to  Stomach Flu Survival

  1. Gertrude E. says:

    Another thing we like to have on hand is the pedialyte popsicles – they usually have a penguin on the box.

  2. mary says:

    The first wave of nausea hit me like a sudden punch in the gut. I immediately went to the kitchen and poured a double shot of organic apple cider vinegar. Mustered up the courage and drank it down. After about 5-10 minutes of discomfort the nausea slowly dissipated. Felling week, I lay down and slept for 2 hours. When I woke, the nausea was slightly trying to come back, so I took another double shot of acv. Went back to bed awhile later and the next day I was fine. I call this a miracle. It was about 10 days ago.

    • Deborah says:

      I completely agree! This Christmas, my entire family got the stomach flu, all four kids and my brother and his wife and I was staying with them in a closed up house cause it was winter. In addition to the powerful effects of prayer and meticulous hand washing, I took a shot of ACV twice a day. I was the only family member not to get sick. They even passed it to my sister in law’s extended family when they went to their house just a few days after being sick, just from an afternoon at their house. A colleague of mine just left work because of norovirus, so I just ran straight to the shops and bought Apple Cider Vinegar! :-)

      • BubblesGalz says:

        Apple Cider Vinegar worked for me!! Last week, I got hit with flu in the middle of night and it was getting so bad that I was scared that I was going to black out and i didn’t have any medicine in the house for flu so I took a spoon of apple cider vinegar with a sip of water. 10 minutes later i was able to sleep and diarrhea and vomit never returned!! I woke up back to normal and had a big breakfast with no sign of illness returning! I will stock up on apple cider vinegar next time! It calms and kills viruses in stomach. I only wished there was a way to get kids to take a spoon of vinegar for their flu too! The taste is repelling for kids. Also, Ginger in hot plain water is great for calming your stomach from upset!

        • John Smith says:

          Add a teaspoon full , around 30mls, to a cup of hot water, then add Honey (Raw or unprocessed) and lemon to taste, it’s actually quite a pleasant hot drink then, and honey (especially Manuka) helps as well.

    • TheDad says:

      I’m praying this works. There are 5 of us and 2 are down for the count… including the captain of the team – mom! Using Bragg’s ACV. Will let you know how we fare.

  3. Chas Barber says:

    We love to use essential oils as a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. For stomach upset like this, the blend Thieves (we use Young Living brand) works really well also. Simply dilute with a beverage (might be challenging if tummy is upset) or add a few drops to an empty capsule and swallow. Repeat as symptoms present. :)

    • Nicole says:

      Don’t do this. Do. NOT. You should not ingest essential oils, certainly not for something like norovirus. My GOD.

      • pam says:

        Nicole,

        I have been using essential oils for twenty years and you CAN ingest some. Oregano oil is essential for stomach issues. As far as norovirus the best prevention is to avoid vaccines :)

        pam

        • Yum Yucky says:

          I swear by Oregano Oil. I ingest it daily and wouldn’t be without it to combat these types of illnesses. On daily basis my family also uses Thieves Oil and colloidal silver.

          • Sarah says:

            Oregano Oil has been my go-to for every illness that seems to pass by our house. Haven’t caught anything yet. My baby boy (2) has the stomach flu and I’m applying Oregano like crazy. Hoping it works its magic!

  4. Claymation says:

    Daisy, Great Article. To make matters worse there is a second virus circulating as well as the Flu Virus this year. This other Virus cause vomiting and diarrhea mainly with slight flu like symptoms lasting about 72 hours. Many are getting this then get over it and then get the Flu. We’ve been seeing a lot of both at the hospital I work at.

  5. belinda says:

    ginger caps, olive leaf extract caps, and colloidal silver

  6. James Baker says:

    I hope you and yours get healthy again soon. The flu hit us down here in the CSRA over Christmas. Both my young boys were in a bad spot. We were together though and that’s what matters! We did our best to not allow it to dampen our Christmas cheer!

    Stay safe and I hope you and yours are doing better!

    -James

  7. Brad Carlson says:

    I keep a 1/2 gal. of organic Apple Juice (w/Pulp) in the cabinet for just this emergency. I drink the whole 1/2 gal with no other food or water until the juice is gone! It will flush ‘Whatever’ right on through so stay close to the toilet! Then later maybe some chicken noodle soup.

  8. Curtis Tyner says:

    Goldenseal may be purchased in salve, tablet, tincture form, or as a bulk powder. Goldenseal is often used to boost the medicinal effects of other herbs with which it is blended or formulated..`.,

    Our new web blog http://www.healthmedicinejournal.comen

  9. Karly says:

    I usually take a warm/hot bath for about 30-45 mins until I feel the spasms pass by. I was up all night last night with bad diarrhoea and took a gravol shortly after so I could get some sleep. Helped a lot, for the rest of the next day I just kept sipping on water, gatorade, vanilla tea, and in the evening I sipped on gingerale. Also took another gravol so I could fall asleep and hopefully stay asleep for the night. Another thing that really helped me was a heating pad wrapped around my belly when going to sleep, make sure you keep it on low especially when falling alseep with it around you, because it will tend to get real hot after a while. Hope this helps!!

  10. Lindsey says:

    So far the only thing that has worked for me is ACV and meclizine. If anyone can tell me what nature’s meclizine is I would love to know. It’s the only western medicine I take now.

  11. Pam says:

    I have noticed that when most people think of getting the “new flu vaccine of the year,” they think of symptoms of gastric and stomach distress, when in fact the flu vaccine is intended to guard (questionable, to say the least) against a respiratory virus. I have never encountered anyone complaining of respiratory flu, only stomach flu. I often wonder why in the push to vaccinate the public this is rarely mentioned?

    Second, why is stomach and gastric distress often referred to as the flu (viral)? When most likely it is due to out of balance stomach bacteria, and symptoms are a way for the body to reach homeostasis or balance. I like to think of it as natures cleanse, getting rid all those built up toxins.

    • Dan says:

      You’re an idiot, Pam.

      • Pam says:

        Dan,

        Thank you. Actually, Medical Education is nothing more than how to write a RX for a symptom. With non-legible penmanship as well. I would rather die with chamomile tea in my hand, than PAY someone to kill me softly and slowly.

        Pam

        • Nicole says:

          norovirus is referred to as a virus because it is a virus.

          • pam says:

            Really? Golly, and from my understanding antibiotics are useless for viruses. So if you already have it, your best bet is to stay home and doctor yourself, cause if you do take an antibiotic (most often doc’s only option, due to ignorance) you are destroying your own body’s defense system, the only thing you have to fight it. Again, most respiratory infections are viral. Once you introduce antibiotics, you destroy the only thing you have to fight it with! And that is why people die.

            Example: I just had a bout with bronchitis. I treated myself with echianaca tea, apple cider vinegar and honey, good to go in less than 3 weeks. Friends who went on antibiotics within 3 days of symptoms, were starting second round of antibiotics at 3 weeks, without any improvement of symptoms!

            Disclaimer: NOT ALL respiratory illness is viral, there are times that they may be bacterial and an antibiotic may be necessary. I am in no way recommending any medical advice, just suggesting that people become educated and wise consumers. The medical community is only providing a service to customers.

  12. Rachel says:

    I love taking a good probiotic!! About one capsule after every hour kicks out the stomach bug very quickly for me!! I’ve never heard of the Acv remedy before so will definitely include that with my regimen of probiotics, water and rest the next time I ever come down with the stomach bug!

  13. Dan says:

    This article is bulllllllshit. If you people know SO much about medicine and healing, then next time you get REALLY sick, and need help from an ACTUAL educated MD, please just stay home and die with your chamomile tea clutched between your idiot fingers.

    • Ginger says:

      Feeling better now?

      The flu isn’t something a doctor generally gets involved with anyway, unless you’re severely dehydrated and you need IV fluids, or there are other symptoms that aren’t really being relieved on their own.

      HOWEVER, in addition, the article specifically states, “If the symptoms are especially severe or continue for more than 48 hours, the standard advice is to seek medical attention.” It also states both the OTC (which essentially is what an MD will normally tell you to take anyway), as well as the natural remedies. So perhaps instead of whining on an online forum, you should go practice your reading comprehension? Just a helpful thought.

    • JL says:

      Ya know, Dan. I’ve had about enough of your crap. Why don’t you go troll somewhere else. What kind of ignorant jackass reads things he doesn’t like and then talks shit in the comments?
      Doctors suck. K? I’m 42 years old, haven’t been to a MD in about 20 years. Know why? Because I can handle the flu at home or an UR. Leave these people alone & go watch Fox News. You’ll fit right in with the demographic that watches that channel.
      This article discusses alternative therapies. Something I doubt you know much about. I know this is a massive shock but people were healing themselves thousands of years before Pfizer came into existence.If YOU want to put chemicals in your body, actually knock yourself out. I’m good with it. It will shorten your life expectancy, after all. Too many dicks in this world, anyway.

  14. Heather W says:

    Actually, I agree with Pam. Flu is an abbreviation of influenza, which is a respiratory illness accompanied by fever and all over muscle pain. Flu vaccine is supposed to help you keep from catching the latest identified influenza virus – debatable I agree, but that’s the theory. ‘Stomach flu’ seems to have been an umbrella term coined to cover things such as E. Coli, campilobacter, criptosporidium, norovirus, clostridium diffocile etc. I might be a nurse, but I like to help my body rather than just polute it with chemicals. I am now trying acv to send my episode of noro on its way. I find acv more palatable than ginger tea. Will try chamomile for the bloating though.

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