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About Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis): Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

About Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis): Symptoms, Causes & Treatments


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What is Gastroenteritis?

Stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, is a common illness during cooler seasons. Having gastroenteritis means your stomach and intestines are infected by a virus or bacteria. Norovirus and rotavirus are the most common types of stomach viruses that cause gastroenteritis. While norovirus can infect people of all ages, rotavirus infects mostly young children.


Stomach flu symptoms

When you suffer from stomach flu, you probably experience:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Note that because of diarrhea and vomiting, it is likely that you become dehydrated as well.


Stomach flu causes

  1. Contact with people who have the virus
  2. Food or water contaminated with the virus
  3. Unwashed hands after using the washroom or a nappy change


Stomach flu prevention

Since vaccination is not available for norovirus infection, the best way to stop stomach flu from spreading is by practicing:

  1. Good personal hygiene routines - Wash hands frequently with liquid soap and water wherever possible. Dry them with a disposable paper towel afterward.
  2. Good food hygiene routines - Clean hands and utensils, cook food thoroughly, separate raw and cooked foods, consume food and drinks from reliable sources only, etc.
  3. Good environmental hygiene routines - Ensure indoor areas are well-ventilated, clean up vomits or any contaminated areas properly and immediately, maintain washroom and drainage facilities, etc.

Besides, remember to keep your child at home if they suffer from stomach flu symptoms like fever, vomiting or diarrhea until they are fully recovered.


Stomach flu treatment

Typically caused by viruses, stomach flu cannot be cured by antibiotics. Plenty of fluids and supportive treatment like ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen are usually all it takes for a patient to recover within days. 

You can take over-the-counter medication to treat the symptoms, but do so sparingly. For fever or aches, ibuprofen (Advil) can help, as long as it doesn’t cause you to have more of an upset stomach. It can also be hard on your kidneys if you get dehydrated. Take it sparingly and with food.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is often recommended for the stomach flu, unless you have liver disease. It relieves fever and aches.


While most cases of stomach flu go away with proper home care, some severe cases do require hospitalization. Cigna Healthfirst Elite Medical Plan is here for unpredictable events such as that, offering comprehensive cover under standard private room and semi-private room types of up to HK$38,800,000 annual limit. Click here to learn more.



  1. WebMD - Gastroenteritis ("Stomach Flu")
  2. Centre for Health Protection - Viral Gastroenteritis
  3. Healthline - Stomach Flu Remedies

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© Cigna 2019

Information provided in this article is intended for health and fitness purposes only and is not intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease (see Terms & Conditions for details). Any health-related information found in this article is available only for your interest and should not be treated as medical advice. Users should seek any medical advice from a physician, especially before self-diagnosing any ailment or embarking on any new lifestyle or exercise regime. Any information contained in this article may not be suitable, accurate, complete or reliable. Cigna accepts no responsibility for the content or accuracy of information contained on external websites or resources, or for the security and safety of using them. "Cigna" and the "Tree of Life" logo are registered trademarks of Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. in the United States and elsewhere, licensed for use. All products and services are provided by or through operating subsidiaries, and not by Cigna Corporation.

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