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What can you do to protect yourself from stomach flu?

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It's important to take steps to protect yourself and your family from stomach flu. Here's some advice:

  • Wash your hands. According to experts, this is still the best way to stop a stomach virus. One review of studies found that good hand-washing technique cut the rate of diarrhea by 40%. Make sure to use soap and water and do it thoroughly -- wash your hands for as long as it takes to recite the alphabet. Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, before eating, and after changing a diaper.
  • Use hand sanitizer. If you're not near a sink to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Be aware that hand sanitizer may not be as effective as hand washing at preventing the stomach flu.
  • Wipe down surfaces. If a family member has the stomach flu, wash off high-traffic areas -- such as the bathroom, door knobs, phones, and TV remotes -- with a diluted bleach solution. If it's possible, keep healthy people out of the bathroom the sick person is using.
  • Make sure your kids get their vaccines. Vaccines for rotavirus can protect children from some types of stomach flu. Kids usually get the vaccines before they're 2 years old.

From: Diarrhea and the Stomach Flu WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor: "Vomiting and Diarrhea in Children," "BRAT Diet."

American College of Gastroenterology: "Diarrheal Diseases."

CDC: "Viral Gastroenteritis," "Myths about Seasonal Influenza and Influenza Vaccines," "Updated Norovirus Outbreak Management and Disease Prevention Guidelines."

The Cochrane Library: "Hand washing for preventing diarrhea."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Viral Gastroenteritis," "Diarrhea."

National Library of Medicine Medline Plus: "Diarrhea."

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "What Should You Eat When You Have Diarrhea?"

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on August 7, 2019

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor: "Vomiting and Diarrhea in Children," "BRAT Diet."

American College of Gastroenterology: "Diarrheal Diseases."

CDC: "Viral Gastroenteritis," "Myths about Seasonal Influenza and Influenza Vaccines," "Updated Norovirus Outbreak Management and Disease Prevention Guidelines."

The Cochrane Library: "Hand washing for preventing diarrhea."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Viral Gastroenteritis," "Diarrhea."

National Library of Medicine Medline Plus: "Diarrhea."

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "What Should You Eat When You Have Diarrhea?"

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on August 7, 2019

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When should you see a doctor about stomach flu?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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