What Is Intestinal Flu and How to Fight It

Vomiting, diarrhea, overall feeling of weakness and fever - those are the main symptoms of an illness commonly called intestinal flu. Although it recedes within several days of maintaining an appropriate diet and sufficient drinking regime, it is not to be underestimated. High-risk groups are mainly children and the elderly.

Intestinal flu is technically called gastroenteritis and it is caused by viruses or bacteria of various origins. It affects the stomach and bowels. It has nothing to do with flu as such, except perhaps for some similar symptoms such as the aforementioned fever or fatigue and exhaustion. In this article, we will have a closer look at intestinal flu in order to be able to recognize this illness in time and start to fight against it; since it causes dehydration and loss of important minerals, its consequences can become severe.

Intestinal Flu and Incubation Period

Incubation period is the period within which the infection gets into the body to the moment the illness sets in. The incubation period length of intestinal flu varies; it depends on the causative agent, and so it may be several hours or several days, usually not more than 4-5 days. Intestinal flu is characterized by very sudden onset.

Intestinal Flu - Symptoms

The introduction to the article names the most frequent and basic symptoms characterizing intestinal flu. Symptoms of intestinal flu are as follows:

  • nausea/vomiting
  • excessive fatigue
  • lack of appetite
  • malaise
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pains and convulsions
  • elevated temperature/fever
  • flatulence
  • ache in muscles and joints
  • heart-burn

Intestinal Flu Treatment

In case where the affected person chooses to go see a doctor (which everyone affected should do) if the intestinal flu does not recede even after a week, the person will be examined in order to determine the causative agent of the illness. Medication will be determined based on the findings; the medicine will mitigate the symptoms and help re-establish balance in the digestive system. In case of viral infection, usually only a strict diet must be kept. In case of bacterial infection, disinfectant agents (mainly well-known animal charcoal) must be added, sometimes the treatment also includes antibiotics.

Diet Is Very Important

The main point of intestinal flu treatment is diet. If maintained carefully, desirable results will come very fast. It is important to persevere even when we feel a little better. Irritated digestive system, mainly after an intestinal flu attack, is very sensitive, so it is not advisable to enjoy greasy, fried or otherwise irritant foods, mainly fat ones, for a week after undergoing the illness. In home treatment, intestinal flu diet has its common principles:

  • Day 1: You should not eat at all
  • Day 2 and 3: dry foods are suitable to calm the system; bread, digestive biscuits, flavourless cookies or non-seasoned rice
  • Day 4 and 5: you can add some types of fruit into your diet
  • Day 5 and further: you may return to commonly used foods slowly and carefully (except for fat, greasy, salty and fried foods)

Drinking regime plays a major role in the diet and is to be properly maintained. Intestinal flu drains a lot of water from the body and patients often become dehydrated. The best drink for such case is non-sweetened black or herb tea which is to be sipped carefully. Apart from that, we can also drink mineral water, but always non-carbonated.

Intestinal Flu Is Particularly Dangerous for Children

Children's body attacked by intestinal flu is in big danger and that is why it is necessary to react more flexibly than in adults. Since dehydration hits faster in small children, it is necessary to provide sufficient intake of fluids. The risk of dehydration is very high in such cases. If intestinal flu attacks a little baby, he/she must be hospitalized in order to receive nutrition intravenously.

The Best Defence Is Prevention

People who have been through intestinal flu surely assess it as a very unpleasant illness which puts the affected individual completely out of order. That is also why the best defence is prevention which consists in maintaining the basic hygienic habits (frequent hand-washing, washing raw fruits and vegetables, etc.) and in avoiding consumption of spoiled foods or raw foods which have not been through any heattreatment even though they require it. It is also suitable to stimulate the immune system and increase its resistance in a natural way (herbal additives, etc.).

Intestinal flu, an illness which is best to avoid, requires patience and will to maintain the diet which is frequently the only way to revitalize the digestive system and get rid of the inflammation developed in the stomach or bowels. Naturally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is recommended within prevention as well as keeping colourful and balanced diet that won't withdraw any important substances essential for good physical and mental condition from the body. We would like to conclude this article with a brief list of available foods which we can call healing and which we definitely should include in our diet since they influence the digestive system:

      • cauliflower
      • papaya
      • zucchini
      • barley
      • olives

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