What we typically call "stomach flu" is actually known as gastroenteritis, and it has nothing to do with influenza. In fact, its most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. The keys to recovery are stopping the diarrhea, drinking plenty of fluids, and following a mild diet.
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It's highly contagious — in fact, viral gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the United States. The most common viruses include rotavirus (especially in children), norovirus (a.k.a. Norwalk virus), and others.
Typically gastroenteritis is caused by a virus, but it can also be caused by bacterial or parasitic infections.
Gastroenteritis can stem from:
The main symptom of gastroenteritis is diarrhea. Other common symptoms include:
Most cases of gastroenteritis can get better on their own over time, without the need for a medicine such as IMODIUM®. But the most important thing to do is to treat your symptoms and prevent dehydration. Lots of your body's fluids are lost from diarrhea and vomiting.
You can reduce your risk of getting gastroenteritis by: