- By Dana Sparks
Home Remedies: Treating ‘stomach flu’
Before we get to the remedy, here’s the reality: There’s no such thing as "stomach flu."
"'Stomach flu’ is a misnomer," says Dr. Cindy Kermott, a Mayo Clinic preventive medicine physician. "It is just a common term for a viral gastroenteritis. And everyone has probably had it — when you have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea."
Dr. Kermott says flu settles in your chest — not your stomach.
"It has to do with the lungs," explains Dr. Kermott. "You get the dry cough, the fevers, the myalgias, where you feel like a train has hit you. That is influenza."
Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Kermott (0:52) are in the downloads.
So how do you treat what we’ve been calling "stomach flu?"
"For the first few hours, you want to avoid anything by mouth," advises Dr. Kermott. "You just want to rest and have your stomach settle a little bit."
After that, Dr. Kermott says it’s vital you keep your body hydrated. Sip on a clear fluid. Water is best, but clear sodas, broths, or weak teas are OK, too. If you can’t tolerate liquids, try chewing on ice chips.
"It’s important to maintain your hydration," stresses Dr. Kermott.
Journalists: This broadcast-quality video Mayo Clinic Minute (0:59) is in the downloads.
When your stomach has fully settled, try eating small amounts of easily digestible foods like soda crackers, unbuttered toast, gelatin or a banana. Avoid fatty and spicy foods until you’re fully recovered.
Finally, Dr. Kermott says to keep listening to your body.
"Symptoms exist because it’s telling your body what to do," she says. "It’s telling you to slow down."
This article is part of the Mayo Clinic Home Remedies series.