Abdominal flu means you have an infection of your abdomen and intestines. The lining of your stomach and intestines has become infected. This is caused by either a virus or bacteria. This is usually the norovirus in adults and in very young children it’s often caused by the rotavirus. The norovirus is very contagious and can be found in vomit, saliva and stools. It’s easily transmitted through unwashed hands, poor hygiene and coughing or sneezing.
The symptoms you can have with abdominal flu include:
- Abdominal pain.
- A headache.
- A fever.
- A weak and lifeless feeling.
You can do the following in order to take good care of yourself and others:
- Make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Dehydration can be caused by your body losing too much fluid and you not taking sufficient fluids in. You can prevent this by:
- Drinking enough and small amounts. You can, for example, drink water, tea or broth. This is also important if you’re vomiting or have diarrhoea. Your body will still absorb small amounts of fluid.
- Make sure you have enough to eat. Eat something you can tolerate and something that’s light. This is also important if you are vomiting or have diarrhoea, as your body will absorb food.
- Take ORS if you notice you’re becoming dehydrated. This is a drink which contains sugars and salts. These help to retain the fluid in your body. You’ll find several brands and types for sale at the chemist or pharmacy.
- Take anti-diarrhoeal drugs if you have diarrhoea. An example of this is Norit’s anti-diarrhoeal medication. You can buy this from the chemist or pharmacy.
- Avoid infecting someone else. You do this by washing your hands, cleaning the toilet properly, using your own cup, cutlery and plates and by keeping a sufficient distance.
Abdominal flu usually passes within 4 days for most people and you generally won’t need to go and see the doctor. People with a compromised immune system, or very young children, may need longer to recover. In very rare cases abdominal flu can cause dehydration and/or long-term complaints. We therefore recommend you visit your GP if:
- You have watery diarrhoea and need to go to the toilet about six or more times a day. Wait to see what happens for the first few days, but we recommend you contact your GP if it’s been going on for three days.
- You have diarrhoea and you’ve also had a fever for three days.
- You have diarrhoea, plus you’re constantly vomiting, you’re very thirsty and only able to drink a little.
- The diarrhoea doesn’t improve after one week.
- You have mucus or blood in your stools or urine.
- You haven’t urinated for more than 24 hours.
- You’re drowsy or light-headed.
- You feel confused.
- You have a rapid heart rate.
- You have rapid breathing.
- You feel like you’re going to faint, or like you have fainted.
- You continue to have abdominal pain or if your abdominal pain becomes severe.