Not all people who are infected with a stomach flu virus will develop associated symptoms. If symptoms do occur, the illness can begin suddenly. Symptoms of stomach flu can last anywhere from 1 to 10 days, depending on which virus a person is infected with. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting.
(Click Stomach Flu Symptoms for more information.)
In order to make a diagnosis, the healthcare provider will ask a number of questions about a person's medical history and will perform a physical exam, looking for signs and symptoms of stomach flu. If the doctor suspects rotavirus, he or she may test the stool for it. Besides rotavirus, there are no specific routine lab tests commonly used to identify other stomach flu viruses.
(Click Stomach Flu Diagnosis to learn more about how it is diagnosed.)
Stomach flu has no specific treatment; antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms and preventing dehydration while the body fights the infection.
People with stomach flu should rest, drink clear liquids, and eat easy-to-digest foods. For infants and young children, oral rehydration solutions can replace lost fluids, minerals, and salts.
(Click Stomach Flu Treatment for a more in-depth look at these treatment options.)
No vaccine is available for stomach flu, with the exception of the rotavirus vaccine (Rotarix®, RotaTeq®). These oral vaccines are for infants aged 6 weeks to 32 weeks (for RotaTeq) or age 6 weeks to 24 weeks (for Rotarix).
Therefore, the best prevention method involves reducing your chances of coming in contact with stomach flu viruses.
(Click Stomach Flu Prevention for more information.)