Stomach Flu – What to Do?

If you have the stomach flu (not really the flu, by the way), which means you have been experiencing nausea and potentially vomiting, no matter how hungry you might be, do not try to eat or drink anything for at least 60 (sixty) minutes after vomiting.  You need to start small and slow.  Try small sips of water or ice chips.  Limit yourself to just 1 (one) teaspoon every 3 (three) minutes until you have consumed about 1/2 (one-half) a cup of water.  Then wait 15 (fifteen) minutes before trying more fluids.  If your nausea has not increased and you do not vomit, you can then try other “clear” liquids.  Clear as in you can see through them.  This would include:

  • water
  • fruit juices that do not contain pulp and are transparent such as grape juice, apple juice, and cranberry juice
  • Kool-aid
  • Tea – sugar or honey can be added, but no milk
  • broth, but nothing solid
  • sports drinks
  • Popsicles, Jell-O and clear hard candy can also be tried

This DOES NOT include:

  • milk products
  • juices that are acidic or contain pulp such as orange juice, pineapple juice, tomato juis and all fruit nectors
  • alcohol (that includes beer and wine)
  • coffee

After 3 (three) to 4 (four) hours, if your nausea had diminished and you have not vomited, you can then try eating some dry foods.  Again, start small and slow and think bland or boring.  Saltines (soda crackers), pretzels, and dry plain toast are good options.

After another 3 (three) to 4 (four) hours with no vomiting or worsening of your nausea you can advance to more substantial food, but again small and slow and boring.  Try some soup with rice or noodles, plain rice, baked potato (no toppings), or bread products (no toppings).

If it has been 24 hours with no incidence of nausea or vomiting you can then progress to a more substantial bland diet and include items such as skinless chicken breast, banana, or applesauce.  Best to avoid fatty, greasy, and spicy foods, as well as milk products.  Give it a day or two for your stomach to recover before resuming your regular diet.

If you find that your nausea and vomiting is not going away and it has been more than 24 (twenty-four) hours since it’s onslaught , schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Maribeth Mulholland M.D.

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