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Viral Gastroenteritis Treatment Overview

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Treating viral gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu, is a virus that goes away on its own without medication. Children and adults with a stomach virus usually feel better after 3 days. Antibiotics will not help, but you can treat symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and watery diarrhea with OTC medications.

The most important thing to do is to drink a lot of fluids so you don’t get dehydrated from diarrhea and vomiting. You can give children rehydration drinks like Pedialyte, and adults can have sports drinks like Gatorade. Children (and the elderly) need to be watched closely to make sure they are drinking enough fluids. Also check that urine is light yellow or clear.

Viral gastroenteritis treatment next steps

If your symptoms have not improved in 3 days, you have a high fever (above 102 F), bloody diarrhea or vomit, or you are pregnant, call your doctor.

If you are vomiting or have diarrhea and you are elderly or have a weakened immune system, or if your infant or young child has diarrhea or vomiting, call the doctor for an urgent (within 24 hours) appointment.

Go to the ER if you can’t keep liquid down or have severe diarrhea with lightheadedness.

Medical tests & labs

Your doctor may check to make sure you aren’t dehydrated. If your doctor is concerned that you could have a bacterial infection or food poisoning, they may order blood and urine tests.

Depending on the results, a doctor will discuss with you which medications to try and other treatments.

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All treatments for viral gastroenteritis

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