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How To Cure The Stomach Flu

Apr. 10, 2014|316 views

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Stomach flu is not flu at all, in the sense that it’s not caused by the influenza virus. The real flu, caused by various strains of influenza virus, affects the upper respiratory tract. Rather, what we often call “stomach flu” is usually caused by the notorious norovirus.

First identified after an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhea among school children in Norwalk, Ohio, in the late 1960s, the virus was originally dubbed Norwalk virus. It’s since been shortened to Norovirus. In parts of Europe, charmingly, it’s referred to as “winter vomiting virus”. The nickname is indelicate. But it’s certainly descriptive of this awful disease. 

Short describes just how much time a patient has between exposure and the appearance of symptoms. They’ve been described as so awful that some victims have questioned whether they wanted to go on living. Mercifully, the disease usually runs its course just as rapidly as it strikes. It can cause symptoms within 24 hours of exposure. Severe symptoms may last from one to three days. The challenge when dealing with this illness is controlling its spread. And staying properly hydrated. Fluid loss is a given, and it may be difficult for a patient to keep fluids down. But hydration is crucial. 

The virus is notoriously difficult to eliminate. It tends to plague cruise ships, ripping through passengers like wildfire, despite efforts at quarantine, because it’s one tough little virus. Ordinary cleaning methods often leave it unfazed. Evidence suggests it spreads easily through the air, so avoid standing anywhere near anyone who has been vomiting. It also survives on touchable surfaces, so people who have been sick should avoid handling any food or utensils that others may use.

Alcohol-based hand gels are ineffective against the transmission of this virus, due to its specific characteristics. Rather, rely on thorough hand washing with soap and water to reduce exposure. Clean affected surfaces with a 10% bleach solution to kill the virus and prevent further spread. Be warned: It can survive for weeks on surfaces. It can’t survive on copper. But that’s of little help to most of us. It’s rarely necessary—or even helpful—to go to the hospital, unless dehydration becomes a serious concern. Wait it out and hope for the best appears to be the best advice available for dealing with this distressing affliction.

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