"Stomach Flu"

Many people talk about the "stomach flu" when they're feeling sick to their stomachs. It isn't the same as influenza, or the flu. Stomach flu is an illness called gastroenteritis (say: gas-tro-en-tuh-RYE-tus), which is usually caused by a virus.

Someone with gastroenteritis may have stomach cramps, diarrhea (say: dye-uh-REE-uh), a fever, and nausea (say: NAW-zee-uh), and might throw up. He or she will probably feel pretty sick for a day or two but will then get better.

There is no vaccine or cure for gastroenteritis. If you have it, you'll want to rest until you feel better. If you're throwing up, don't eat solid food. Instead, sip fluids, such as water, or try a popsicle. Your mom or dad also might give you an oral rehydration (say: ree-hye-DRAY-shun) solution. That's a fancy name for those special fruit-flavored drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes — stuff your body can get low on when you're dehydrated from diarrhea or throwing up.

Once you stop throwing up, you can try other kinds of clear liquids like chicken broth and juices. When you start to feel better, try eating bland foods like gelatin, toast, pretzels or crackers, bananas, rice, and plain noodles. As your digestive system returns to normal, you can gradually go back to eating what you usually do.

Gastroenteritis is contagious (say: kun-TAY-jus), which means that someone who has it can spread it to other people. It's spread by close contact with the person who is sick or by eating food that's contaminated. That's why it's important to wash your hands, especially before you eat and after going pee or poop!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com

Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
Web SiteBrainPop This is a great site for kids with informational movies about science, anatomy, weather, and more.
Web SiteStalking the Mysterious Microbe On this American Society for Microbiology site, kids can learn more about bacteria, viruses, and other microbes.
Related Articles
Word! Nausea "Ooh, I'm sick to my stomach!" is another way of putting it.
Food Poisoning Did you ever eat something that made you feel ooky? It might have been food poisoning.
Being Safe in the Kitchen Cooking and baking are lots of fun - as long as you stay safe. Read this article for safety tips before you head into the kitchen.
E. Coli E. coli is a common type of bacteria that can make you pretty sick. Read more in this article for kids.
What's the Big Sweat About Dehydration? Our bodies need water to work properly. Find out more in this article for kids.
The 5-Second Rule Did you ever eat something off the floor? Uh-oh. Time to read this article for kids about the 5-second rule.
Belly Pain Ugh. Bellyaches. Find out what causes tummy trouble in this article for kids.
Word! Diarrhea If you've ever had a bad time in the bathroom, then you know what this is.
What Are Germs? You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.
What's Puke? Did you ever toss your cookies? That means throw up, or puke. It's gross, but just about everyone has done it. Find out more in this article for kids.
Developments Developments
Sign up for enewsletter
Get involved Get involved
Discover ways to support Akron Children's