With so many people traveling over the holidays and coming home to see family, colds and stomach flu can spread rapidly. What do you do when the stomach flu or gastroenteritis strikes a member of your family? Mia Finkelston, a doctor who treats patients for LiveHealth Online, recommends the following tips on how to treat stomach flu:
1. Wash your hands repeatedly.
2. Create a comfortable environment for the sick person because he or she will feel really lousy. Keep them away from the hustle and bustle of family activities. Having the stomach flu can be really draining so be sure to remind the patient that the sickness will end, in most cases within three days.
3. Have plenty of different fluids on hand depending on what the sick person may like. Encourage the sick person to take little sips versus large gulps to help avoid vomiting.
4. Know the signs for dehydration and when to seek care. Try to keep an eye on the output amounts and the intake. This is hard to do with children when it comes to diapers and diarrhea. So watch for other things: Is the child’s breathing pattern changing? How is the child’s skin? If you pinch the child’s belly, does the skin bounce back quickly or is it sluggish? If there is a concern, call your family doctor or connect with your LiveHealth Online doctor who can offer fast advice.
5. Stay away from over-the-counter medicines like Kaopectate or Imodium unless it is absolutely necessary (if you have to give a talk or travel on a plane, for example). Also, do not give these kinds of medicines to children. It is much better to let the stomach flu run its course and medicines like these may only prolong the duration of the illness.
Comments and opinions from Dr. Mia Finkelston are hers alone. This is an essay and is not considered medical treatment.