Munson Health
Viral Gastroenteritis

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by Shannon DW

(Stomach Flu; Stomach Bug)



There is no specific medical treatment for viral gastroenteritis. Antibiotics are not helpful for infections caused by a virus. However, there are a number of things you can do to be more comfortable and avoid dehydration.
  • Fluids—It is important to drink fluids to replace those you’ve lost when sick. Take small sips of water, suck on ice chips, or drink clear soda or noncaffeinated sports drinks. Give your child an oral rehydration solution (such as Pedialyte) instead of water.
  • Diet—Gradually begin to eat bland foods, such as toast, crackers, bananas, rice, chicken, and potatoes. Avoid dairy products, caffeine, fatty foods, and spicy foods until you’re feeling better. If you’re breast-feeding an infant who is sick, continue to breast-feed. If your baby is bottle-fed, give him or her oral rehydration solution or formula.
  • Rest—Make sure you get enough rest while you’re sick and when you’re recovering. If your child is sick, make sure he or she gets plenty of rest.
Call your doctor if you:
  • Can’t keep fluids down for 24 hours
  • Vomit blood
  • Have bloody diarrhea
  • Have a fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Vomit for more than two days
  • Have signs of dehydration:
    • Dizziness or light-headedness
    • Excessive thirst
    • Dry mouth
    • Dark urine
    • Little or no urine
Call your doctor if your child:
  • Is under six months of age
  • Has a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Seems tired or irritable
  • Has bloody diarrhea
  • Has stomach pain
  • Has signs of dehydration:
    • Unusual drowsiness
    • Dry lips and mouth
    • No tears when crying
    • Dark urine
    • Not urinating very much (for example, no wet diaper in three hours)
    • Feeling thirsty but vomiting after drinking fluids
If you are diagnosed with viral gastroenteritis, follow your doctor's instructions .


American Academy of Family Physicians

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mayo Clinic



BC Health Guide, British Columbia Ministry of Health

The Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Alberta Government



Viral gastroenteritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: . Accessed August 21, 2005.

Viral gastroenteritis. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: . Accessed August 21, 2005.


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