Facts Behind Stomach Flu in Kids

Stomach flu is a common illness that can catch adults and children but is more common among children. This is because regardless of their best efforts, they touch everything, share food, and don’t often clean their hands. Babies also get stomach flu at certain ages because then they put anything they touch in their mouths.

Stomach flu, alias the “stomach bug” or gastroenteritis, usually clears up on its own. Many children sick of the stomach often do not need to see a doctor.

Still, viruses causing the stomach flu to multiply pretty fast, so if you or your kid is dealing with the stomach bug, you may have to cancel your plans and stay at home for the next few days. Severe stomach flu symptoms need prompt treatment at a gastroenteritis emergency room near you.

Stomach Flu Definition

Note that the stomach flu is different from the “flu,” – so its cause is not the similar influenza viruses that bring the flu. The flu attacks the respiratory system, including the lungs, nose, and throat. The stomach flu directly attacks the intestines.

One of the following three viruses causes stomach flu:

  • Norovirus
  • Rotavirus
  • Adenovirus

The most common virus for stomach flu among kids is the norovirus, mainly affecting kids under 5 years. This virus is responsible for up to 21 million stomach flu infections each year. It’s also the cause of up to 6 million pediatrician visits every year.

The virus acts quickly and can cause sickness in a day or two after your kid catches it. It’s also highly contagious, so if your child has it, chances are that you and other kids in the house will be sharing it in a week, and you might need treatment at an emergency room near you.

The most intense period of the disease is the first few days, so your kid might use your help to get through it or visit an emergency room for stomach viruses in kids.

Stomach Flu Symptoms

There are two dreaded things that the stomach flu causes for kids and parents: vomiting ad diarrhea. The stomach flu symptoms make it look worse than it sounds because your kids can have vomiting and diarrhea cycles for close to 24 hours.

Here are some hard to miss symptoms of the stomach flu for your child:

  • Diarrhea – mainly watery and occasionally explosive
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever – typically mild and at times nonexistent
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Stiff joints
  • Tiredness
  • Sleepiness

A baby with the stomach flu increasing cries and becomes irritable. Fever is a less likely symptom for a stomach flu patient. The good news is that this stomach bug quickly disappears on its own.

How long does the Stomach Bug Last for Kids

Stomach flu goes away in two or three days. Severe vomiting occurs within the first day, then gets less intense.

If your child’s symptoms persist for 5 days or more, call in a pediatrician. Consult an emergency room near you also if your child has the following symptoms.

  • High fever
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea and vomiting stained with blood
  • Dehydration signs like dry skin, rapid breathing, and failing to urinate.

Proper rest and rehydration can ensure your child’s recovery in a few days. If these symptoms persist, get to the ER in Houston immediately.

Stomach Flu What to Eat

The best foods for a child with stomach flu are the BRAT banana diets, rice, toast, or applesauce. These are easily digestible foods, so your child can start eating them after vomiting stops. Crackers and boiled chicken are also good remedies.

Avoid greasy or heavily spiced foods shortly after your child stops vomiting. Dairy products should also be avoided because the body becomes highly lactose-intolerant after stomach flu. However, breastfeeding for infants is necessary, and they can also have a formula if they can tolerate it.

For fluids, only administer rehydration solutions and plain water. Some drinks like apple juice and carbonated drinks can worsen vomiting and diarrhea.


The absolute treatment for kids with stomach flu is hydration and rest. Water alone is insufficient for severe stomach flu, so you may want to seek stomach flu treatment near you. The most probable therapy, though, is rehydration solutions, which are available at the store.

Also, medicine is not suitable for stomach flu. Since it’s a viral disease, antibiotics won’t help. Taking medications can prolong the course of the symptoms. Just let the virus subside in its course, and ensure your child gets plenty of rest.

©2024 Memorial Heights Emergency Center. All Rights Reserved.

Call Now Check In Online
Click to listen highlighted text!