Pregnancy and Stomach Flu
The stomach flu virus does not have any impact on the baby because it stays within the digestive tract. The biggest concern for women with the stomach flu during pregnancy is the risk of severe dehydration, which can affect the baby.
There is no medicine that will kill stomach flu viruses (antibiotics are not effective against viral infections). Therefore, stomach flu treatment goals in pregnant women are focused on providing supportive care while the body fights the infection. Supportive care refers to treating symptoms, such as dehydration, that can occur as a result of the stomach flu. Preventing dehydration is especially important for pregnant women, because severe dehydration can affect the baby.
Dehydration is the loss of fluids from the body. Important salts or minerals, known as electrolytes, can also be lost with the fluids. Dehydration can be caused by:
- Excessive urination
- Excessive sweating
- Not drinking enough fluids because of nausea, difficulty swallowing, or loss of appetite.
In stomach flu, the combination of diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration.
The symptoms of dehydration are:
- Excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Little or no urine (or dark-yellow urine)
- Decreased tears
- Severe weakness or lethargy
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
While not stomach flu cures, there are some suggestions that can help a pregnant woman reduce stomach flu symptoms as her body fights the infection. These suggestions include the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids are the most effective stomach flu treatment for preventing dehydration in pregnant women. By drinking fluids, such as oral rehydration fluids (ORF), juice, or water, pregnant women can reduce their chance of becoming dehydrated. Sports drinks do not replace the nutrients and minerals lost during this illness. Special fluids used for oral rehydration can be found in most pharmacies or grocery stores and can be purchased without a prescription.
- If diarrhea or vomiting is severe, you should visit your doctor. In severe cases requiring a visit to the emergency room or hospitalization, stomach flu treatment may involve replacing body fluids directly through the veins using an intravenous (IV) line.
- Allow your gastrointestinal tract to settle by not eating for a few hours.
- Sip small amounts of clear liquids or suck on ice chips if vomiting is still a problem.
- Gradually reintroduce food, starting with bland, easy-to-digest food, like toast, broth, apples, bananas, and rice.
- Avoid dairy products and caffeine.
- Get plenty of rest.