The stomach flu occurs when a viral infection inhabits the stomach and intestine. Another name for it is “viral gastroenteritis.”
The stomach flu typically lasts between one and three days. You can better your chances of a quick recovery by consuming only liquids and clear foods (such as chicken broth) while you are sick.
Symptoms of the stomach flu will typically last the length of the illness, gradually lessening as your body heals. The symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramping, chills and fever. Symptoms can appear suddenly, or they may gradually increase over a period of a few hours.
It is very important to stay hydrated when you have the stomach flu or the illness will last longer than three days, and you can become dangerously dehydrated. If you aren’t able to keep anything down other than water, ask your doctor to recommend a drink that will replace lost electrolytes and minerals.
Take small, frequent sips of water so as not to upset your stomach. It is important to reduce irritation to your stomach if possible. The longer your stomach remains irritated, the longer it will take for you to heal.
Although the stomach flu typically lasts one to three days, it can be up to two weeks before your bowel habits return to normal.
Call your doctor if your stomach flu lasts longer than three days, or if you suspect it might be something else. Stomach flu has many of the same symptoms as food poisoning, so it is best to see a doctor immediately if you suspect you may have food poisoning and not the stomach flu.