The stomach virus, also known as gastroenteritis, is a common virus that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This leads to episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. Although commonly referred to as the stomach flu, the influenza virus is not involved in this particular infection.
A variety of different viruses can cause gastroenteritis. Most commonly the sickness is caused by rotaviruses, sapoviruses, adenoviruses and noroviruses. Introduction of these viruses into the body can occur through physical contact with infected people or by contact with infected objects or body fluids. Most commonly infection occurs from eating or drinking food and drinks that are infected with the virus. Regardless of how the virus is introduced into the body, most stomach viruses take the same amount of time to show symptoms.
Symptoms of a stomach virus include mainly diarrhea and vomiting, but other symptoms such as headaches, body aches and fever may also accompany an infection. Most infected persons take between 24 and 48 hours from the time of infection before they begin showing symptoms of the disease.
Most infections of stomach viruses last between 24 hours to three days. There are no specific treatments for gastroenteritis, but precautions such as keeping hydrated are important to keep a simple stomach virus from becoming deadly. Some over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medications may help relieve the symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is particularly important to keep oral rehydration solution (ORS) around when treating a child for a stomach virus.