I have heard the stomach flu is going around so I thought I would share some information about it and what you can do to treat it.

The stomach flu, or Gastroenteritis, is caused by a variety of viruses like noroviruses and Rotavirus. These typically come from contaminated food and water or contact with someone that already has the virus. The symptoms typically include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, cramps and sometimes fever.

These symptoms usually only last a day or two but can sometimes last up to 10 days. Because it is not influenza the flu shot can’t protect you from it. Antibiotics won’t treat it because they aren’t effective against viruses. Because there is no effective treatment, we are usually left to our own devices to take care of it.

Below are some tips I found from the Mayo Clinic to help you weather the stomach flu storm.

— Let your stomach settle— Stop eating solid foods for a few hours.

— Stay hydrated —It is easy to get dehydrated when you are vomiting and have diarrhea. If you are having trouble keeping water down take small sips or suck on ice chips. Other drinks that work well are clear soda, clear broths and noncaffeinated sports drinks. Drink plenty of liquid every day, taking small, frequent sips.

— Ease Food Back Into Diet — Gradually start eating bland, easy to digest foods such as crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas, rice and chicken. Stop eating if your nausea returns.

— Avoid certain foods and substances until you feel better — Avoid dairy, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.

— Get plenty of rest —Dehydration and illness can make you weak and tired. Getting plenty of rest will help you feel better.

— Be cautious with medications — Many pain relievers or fever reducers can make your stomach more upset or cause liver problems. Before choosing a pain reliever or fever reducer, talk to your healthcare provider.

If your symptoms become severe it is important to see your doctor. If you can’t keep fluids down for 24 hours, see blood in vomit or stool, become dehydrated, or have a fever over 104 F, you should see your doctor. Most importantly, take steps to prevent the stomach flu like frequently washing your hands, sanitizing your home and work station and avoid unnecessary contact with sick individuals.

The McPherson Family YMCA is a non-profit charitable association and we welcome all regardless of race, religion, age, gender, income and ability to pay.

Tyler Glidden is the wellness director for the McPherson Family YMCA.