The stomach flu, also known as gastroenteritis, is a virus that causes a one to three day bout of nausea and purging. The three main symptoms of the stomach flu are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms can be accompanied by a fever, the chills, and fatigue. Stomach flu is spread from person to person by direct contact with a carrier or contact with a dirty surface that contains the virus. Steps to prevent the stomach flu address these issues in reducing the risk of an infection.
Wash your hands frequently:
Since the virus that causes the stomach flu is transmitted through contact, the single most effective and easiest way to prevent the stomach flu is frequent thorough hand washing. If the virus gets on your hands before you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, it’s path is paved, so make sure it’s not on them in the first place by keeping them clean. Wash your hands every hour or so when in public places or in shared households to reduce the risk of catching the virus.
Get a full night’s sleep:
In order for the immune system to function at its optimal capacity, it needs energy. Sleep is one of the body’s most important sources of energy and a lack of sleep increases the risk of catching a bug. While a consistent eight hours of sleep every night is not guaranteed to prevent the stomach flu, it does reduce the risk of getting sick by giving the immune system a fighting chance.
Eat a balanced diet:
Along with sleep, the other main fuel of the immune system and the body as a whole is food. According to the University of Cincinnati, among the most important vitamins and minerals for the immune system are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. Eat a balance diet rich in these and other vitamins and minerals to help prevent the stomach flu.
Avoid shared surfaces and close contact with infected people:
Just because it looks clean doesn’t mean it is clean, and just because they look healthy doesn’t mean they are healthy. When it comes to preventing the stomach flu, particularly in the winter time, it’s ok to be grossed out. Don’t drink out of someone else’s glass or use another person’s eating utensil. After touching a door handle, shaking a hand, or touching any other suspect surface, wash your hands.
If it seems like the steps to prevent stomach flu aren’t exactly rocket science, that’s because they aren’t. Reducing the risk of an infection isn’t difficult, and this doesn’t just go for stomach flu, but for all contact infections. Engage in frequent and thorough hand washing, consistently get a full night’s sleep, and keep a balanced diet and you will have lessened the chances of coming down with the stomach flu.