The medical term for the upset stomach you feel when you have a stomach bug is gastroenteritis. But, like other medical terms, it’s not always clear what gastroenteritis means.
For context, gastroenteritis is when your digestive tract gets infected. So if you have diarrhea and stomach pain, that’s gastroenteritis.
What’s the difference?
The main difference between gastroenteritis and gut infections is the time frame. Stomach bugs are usually caused by a virus. With a virus, you can usually fight it off right away.
Gastritis is inflammation in the lining of your stomach. It can last for days, weeks, or months. Inflammation can make it hard for your stomach to work properly.
Gastritis is also common in people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Gastritis occurs when the lining of your stomach gets inflamed. It often occurs after you eat or drink something that triggers your stomach to produce acid. This causes your stomach acids to leak into your esophagus, causing your esophagus to burn.
Other types of stomach bugs include:
- E. coli
- E. coli 0157:H7
These are all types of bacteria that can cause stomach pain and diarrhea. Sometimes they can also cause vomiting.
If you have symptoms of a stomach bug, it’s best to see your doctor. They can give you a test to make sure the bug that’s causing your symptoms is a virus or bacteria.
If your doctor thinks your symptoms are caused by a stomach bug, they’ll probably prescribe you an anti-viral or anti-bacterial medication to treat the infection.
There are other ways to treat stomach pain and upset stomach. These include:
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- Avoiding foods and drinks that make you feel sick
- Drinking plenty of fluids
Symptoms of a stomach bug
Symptoms of a stomach bug can include:
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms usually last for 2 to 3 days.
Signs that you have a stomach bug and need medical attention include:
- Blood in your vomit
- Unexplained weight loss
- Signs of dehydration, like a decreased amount of urine or dark-colored vomit
If you have diarrhea and stomach pain, you may have a stomach bug. But if you have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite, you probably don’t have a stomach bug.
How to prevent a stomach bug?
To avoid infection, there are a few ways to prevent a stomach bug:
- Wash your hands before preparing food.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid foods and drinks that make you feel sick.
- Drink fluids or take over-the-counter (OTC) anti-nausea drugs if you’re feeling sick.
When to see your doctor?
If you have symptoms of a stomach bug, you should see your doctor. They can give you a test to make sure your stomach bug is caused by a virus or bacteria.
If it’s a virus, they can give you medication to treat the infection. If it’s bacteria, they can prescribe antibiotics to help you fight the infection.
Treatments for symptoms of a stomach bug
Depending on the type of virus or bacteria that’s causing your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe:
- Antibiotics to treat the infection
- Anti-nausea medications to help you feel better
- Anti-viral medication to treat the infection
These treatments are available over the counter or by prescription.
If you have other symptoms, your doctor may also prescribe anti-nausea drugs to help you feel better. They’ll likely prescribe OTC drugs, like OTC anti-nausea medications or anti-nausea medication that comes in a liquid form.
If you’re feeling sick, drink a glass of water or suck on a straw. The fluid can help you rehydrate and rehydrate your body.
Shop OTC anti-nausea medications.
If you’re vomiting, get in a safe place and lie down. If you’re experiencing any of the other symptoms of a stomach bug, don’t leave the area.
If you’re unable to lie down, sit in a chair or get on your hands and knees to vomit. Then get treatment for the symptoms of vomiting.
See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
- It takes more than 2 days to feel better.
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- You have severe water or stomach pain.
- You can’t keep fluids down.
- You have blood in your vomit.
- You have bloody or dark-colored vomit.
- You’re having trouble breathing.
These symptoms could be signs of a serious infection. It’s important to see your doctor to get tested and start treatment.
What happens if you have a stomach bug?
If you’ve had a stomach bug, you’ll probably feel better after a few days. You may have some lingering stomach pain or upset stomach.
You may also have other symptoms of a stomach bug, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Stomach bloating
If you don’t treat the infection, you may become dehydrated. This can cause you to lose more fluid than normal.
Dehydration can be life threatening. The symptoms of dehydration may include:
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Dry eyes
- Urinating more than usual
- Feeling tired or weak
- Feeling thirsty
- Having a fast heart rate
- Skin that feels cool to the touch
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Passing out or fainting
- Feeling confused or disoriented
- Feeling nauseated
- Having a fast or irregular heartbeat
If you’re dehydrated, you’ll need to drink extra fluids to replace the fluids you lost.
The bottom line
A stomach bug is an infection that causes symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It most often occurs in the stomach or small intestine.
There are many different types of stomach bugs. They can cause a range of symptoms, including stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.
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