Certain kinds of illnesses seem to go around the public every year, especially in the winter. This year we have heard of a lot of people having acute gastroenteritis (a “stomach bug” or inappropriately named “stomach flu”), and we want to share with you some home remedies and tips you can use to help take care of yourself should you catch something like this.
First and foremost, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing. Acute gastroenteritis is an infection in the GI tract that should be short-lived – 2 or 3 days at most. It typically presents with nausea, occasionally vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping, bloating, and pain. If you’re having symptoms last for longer than a few days you should visit a doctor for a more extensive examination.
Okay, with that out of the way, here are some things you can do (or should know) to help yourself through.
- Stay hydrated. Because stomach problems are short-lived, the best treatment is to stay hydrated and wait it out. Lots of water, with a little salt or lemon to help keep your electrolyte levels in balance.
- Use ginger. Ginger is a very effective anti-nausea herb, has infection-fighting properties, and is easily available in grocery stores. It is best used as a tea, brewed to whatever strength you can stand. The best method is to purchase fresh ginger and either heat it in water directly (to make a decoction) or steep some in hot water (as an infusion). Since you’re already keeping yourself hydrated, ginger can make a good addition to what you’re drinking. Notably, you will not get the same benefits with ginger ale or other processed ginger drinks as you would when using the fresh herb.
- Keep the GI tract moving. In the middle of a diarrhea episode it is easy to want to take something to stop the problem, but this should be avoided. Bowel movements are the body’s way of purging the GI tract, and these need to continue to carry the infection out of the body. This is especially true if diarrhea is accompanied by fever or is bloody. Since you need to void, this is why hydrating is so important and why symptoms should be examined more seriously if they don’t let up after three days or so.
- Restore the gut afterward. Once symptoms start to abate, it’s time to rebuild your gut flora and strengthen your digestion again. Naturally fermented foods (pickles, yogurts, kimchi, etc) are great for this. Honey can also be useful if you are experiencing some mild nausea or bloating after the worst of the symptoms, but use this cautiously.
Keep yourselves in good shape over the winter and into spring. And if you need further care, schedule your consultation today.