3 tips for surviving the stomach virus

I’m not normally one to fall prey to seasonal viruses. I do what most of us do to stay healthy — workout regularly, try and eat a balanced diet and throw a vitamin C tablet into a water bottle anytime I’m around someone sick.

Moral of the story? No one is invincible.

Last week I got sick for the first time in as long as I can remember. After a normal day of work, my stomach started cramping and I felt as though I couldn’t fit anything else in there. I felt full, bloated and suddenly lethargic as the only way to prevent the sharp pain from the cramps was to lie on my back.

My initial reaction was to think I might have gotten food poisoning from a sushi restaurant I had joined with coworkers for lunch, but after a quick text or two, it seemed like they were all fine…so what was going on?!

Things took a turn quickly and I suddenly found myself stripped from the comforts of my warm bed and cast down onto the cold tile of my bathroom floor, head in toilet and the battle began.

In increments of 15-45 minutes it seemed, I found myself in the same spot. I was desperate for sleep and my back ached after the repeated clenching of my stomach muscles…oh, and I was exhausted. I clung to a bottle of 7-Up in hopes that it was the stomach elixer that I had always heard about from my family, but to little avail.

This epic battle between man and beast raged on all night until I woke up around 7 a.m. on that same bathroom tile battleground. The worst was over. I emerged 10 pounds and about 3 skin shades lighter.

I’m not the only one. Similar stomach viruses and “bugs” have caught the attention of mainstream media lately. Since symptoms of the stomach virus and the most recent strain of influenza can seem very similar, and often times people self-diagnose themselves incorrectly and have to endure much more than they’d like.

Protect yourself from the stomach flu by washing your hands regularly, limiting time spent with others who are sick, and by cleaning countertops and other surfaces with bleach. However, following all prevention tips can’t guarantee you from contracting a strain of this season’s stomach virus, in the unfortunate case that you come down sick, so learn how to survive it!

1.  Stay hydrated

The constant vomiting can lead to severe dehydration, which can lead to other health problems. Try to sip on water, Gatorade or other drinks every hour to replenish the lost water and electrolytes your body is losing. Unfortunately it may not always “stay down” but it’s still important to quench your body’s thirst during the fight.

If you choose to drink Gatorade or other sports drinks, make sure to add water to dilute them. The sugar and sodium in these drinks can sometimes lead your body to further dehydrate itself!

Another popular solution to address dehydration, diarrhea and vomiting is Pedialyte. I haven’t tried Pedialyte before but many I know swear by it.

2.  Eat lightly

Often times eating sounds miserable during the stomach virus but just as it is important to stay hydrated, your body needs to replenish nutrients lost to constant vomiting and diarrhea. Some good options are soup, crackers and bread.

3.  Kick your feet up 

No, don’t actually kick your feet up. Try and find ways to relax and rest while staying as comfortable as possible. Throw on your favorite TV show or movie and lay back and relax. Any time in-between “bathroom sessions” is sacred right now, so enjoy it and try and make them last.

Here’s to hoping you don’t have to battle the “Beast in the Belly” but if you do, remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. Gear up and ride out the “bug” so you’ll be able to get back to 100 percent and enjoying the things you love in a shorter period of time.

If symptoms persist, contact a primary care physician immediately. 

About the author

Garyn Goldston
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Garyn is a proud TCU Horned Frog and a rowdy Dallas-Fort Worth sports fan. He is a former physician liaison for Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital.

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3 tips for surviving the stomach virus