Tips to tackle a winter stomach bug

Immune System Expert
Ask Dr. Jen Tan

03 December 2015

1. Stay hydrated

It’s very important to stay hydrated, because you are probably losing fluid at both ends! Vomiting and diarrhoea quickly dehydrate you.

Keep drinking water, however little you feel like it. Have it warm if it appeals to you more that way. Some people find it easier to drink through a straw, bizarre though it may sound.

Once you're feeling a little better, some fruit juice will help replace some sugars and electrolytes and perk you up a bit, which is important if you are still not feeling up to food.

2.Wash your hands

Whilst you are obviously going to need to take plenty of care of yourself, it’s worth sparing a thought for those around you, who will relish having it as little as you do. They can catch it from food or cutlery or surfaces that you have touched, so it’s best to reduce social contact for a while.

Alcohol wipes and gels won’t work to stop you spreading it – you have to be rigorous about hand washing with soap and water, and cleaning all communal surfaces well. If you can access a loo that others don’t have to use then so much the better.

3. Choose the right types of medication

Antibiotics can’t counter this bug – it’s caused by a virus. Be careful if you are taking conventional painkillers because it’s easy to overdo it, especially if you regularly use painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory medication. Make sure you know what is in the preparations and how much to take over a 24-hour period.

Fortunately, herbs are less tricky and are easy to use to minimise the symptoms. Take Echinacea several times daily for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity, which will reduce the severity of the symptoms. You’re unlikely to benefit from pills or capsules whilst you’re throwing everything up, so use a tincture (drops) instead, as these absorb without having to be digested.

You may find that taking a soothing preparation such as Silicol®gel diluted in water will settle your stomach a little, as it physically buffers the stomach lining as well as actively countering inflammation. This is helpful after the bug has left you too, as your stomach might feel quite delicate and queasy for a while.

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4. Think about what you are eating – even if food is the last thing on your mind

You’re unlikely to feel hungry whilst the symptoms are at their height, but the wobbly blood sugar that this causes can make you feel distinctly odd. Put a spot of pure fruit juice concentrate or fruit cordial in some of your drinks, and ease your stomach back into action with slow sips of miso soup, which is both balancing and energising. Nettle tea with a tiny nip of honey or agave syrup can also help settle blood sugar levels, without being too demanding on your body.

Once you feel like eating again, go for well-cooked, short grain brown rice, which is very soothing for the gut, and flavour it with something delicious and natural like Herbamare® Bouillon stock. Thick vegetable soup, such as carrot, lentil and coriander soup, will also go down easily and not challenge your digestive system. See how to make this delicious soup below:

5. Sweat it out

Raising your temperature is part of the body’s way of defeating the virus, so let yourself sweat it out. Occasionally opening a window to allow some fresh air into your room is fine, but don’t put yourself in a draught, no matter how toasty you are feeling.

With these tips in place you should soon be back to normal and free of the winter vomiting bug. If you symptoms have lasted for more than 4 days, however, do consult a doctor, to rule out other underlying medical conditions and to prevent prolonged dehydration.

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