Technically, vomiting is a good cleansing

Gastrointestinal flu: tips for diarrhea and vomiting

The gastrointestinal flu is usually a short-term but unpleasant illness. What you can do yourself - and when it is advisable to see a doctor.

Diarrhea is not an independent disease, but merely a symptom of a variety of diseases - mostly of the gastrointestinal tract. If it is caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites in the stomach and / or intestines, it is called gastroenteritis, also known as gastrointestinal flu. In addition to diarrhea, vomiting often occurs due to the involvement of the stomach.

As a rule, gastrointestinal flu is harmless and self-limiting - the symptoms disappear on their own within one to two days. In the acute phase, however, it is still important to protect the organism from too much fluid and nutrient loss. This applies in particular to babies, children and previously weakened and / or elderly people.

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Enough liquid

The opinion that the liquid causes diarrhea in the first place and that one should therefore drink little is a misconception. The opposite is the case: if you have diarrhea, you have to drink enough fluids to replenish the lost volume. The body needs the fluid to flush out the pathogens in the intestines. It liquefies the stool so that it can be passed out more easily.

So that the gastrointestinal tract is not overloaded, the liquid should be drunk regularly in small sips throughout the day. Tap water, still mineral water or unsweetened tea are ideal. Soft drinks such as cola or fruit juices are not recommended due to their high sugar content. If you lose a lot of fluids and cannot keep any food at all, you should also use electrolyte solutions from the pharmacy to restore minerals such as sodium and potassium to the body.

Unless there is excessive vomiting, small amounts of mineral-rich, easily digestible food can be eaten. We recommend rice and pasta (without sauces!), Low-fat, clear soups, bananas or rusks.

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Medical support

With traditional gastrointestinal flu, there is usually no need to take medication. Special medications such as peristalsis inhibitors should only be taken in consultation with a doctor, as they inhibit bowel movements and thus increase the length of time the stool remains in the bowel. While this reduces the diarrhea itself, it prevents the intestinal self-cleaning process.

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If in doubt, go to the doctor

If, in addition to diarrhea, there is a fever or blood in the stool, it is essential to see a doctor. There are herbal medicines for nausea and vomiting that can alleviate the symptoms. In the case of severe vomiting, an antiemetic prescribed by a doctor can help suppress the urge to vomit.

++ More on the topic: Treatment of gastrointestinal flu ++

Since infants, toddlers and the elderly are more prone to dehydration (severe loss of fluid), a doctor should be consulted at an early stage.

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Katrin Derler, BA (2017), Astrid Leitner (2020)

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