Skip to main content

Safety and Wellness

Stomach Flu


Many people talk about the "stomach flu" when they're feeling sick to their stomachs. It isn't the same as influenza, or the flu. Stomach flu is an illness called gastroenteritis (say: gas-tro-en-tuh-rye-tus), which is usually caused by a virus.

Someone with gastroenteritis may have stomach cramps, diarrhea (say: dye-uh-ree-uh), a fever, and nausea (say: naw-zee-uh), and might throw up. He or she will probably feel pretty sick for a day or two but will then get better.

There is no vaccine or cure for gastroenteritis. If you have it, you'll want to rest until you feel better. If you're throwing up, don't eat solid food. Instead, sip fluids, such as water, or try a popsicle. Your mom or dad also might give you an oral rehydration (say: ree-hye-dray-shun) solution. That's a fancy name for those special fruit-flavored drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes — stuff your body can get low on when you're dehydrated from diarrhea or throwing up.

Once you stop throwing up, you can try other kinds of clear liquids like chicken broth and juices. When you start to feel better, try eating bland foods like gelatin, toast, pretzels or crackers, bananas, rice, and plain noodles. As your digestive system returns to normal, you can gradually go back to eating what you usually do.

Gastroenteritis is contagious (say: kun-tay-jus), which means that someone who has it can spread it to other people. It's spread by close contact with the person who is sick or by eating food that's contaminated. That's why it's important to wash your hands, especially before you eat and after going pee or poop!

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: September 2010


Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Cold Water Shock Can Quickly Cause Drowning
  • E-Cigs Are Addictive and Harmful
  • Bystanders Can Intervene to Stop Bullying

Download Spring 2014 (PDF)


Overcoming the Odds: A KING 5 TV Children's HealthLink Special 0:44:45Expand

In the spirit of the holidays, patients, parents and doctors share inspirational stories of healing and hope. From surviving heart failure and a near-death drowning to battling a flesh-eating disease, witness how the impossible became possible thanks to the care patients received at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Play Video
Miracle Season 2013 0:57:06Expand

Miracle Season, hosted by Steve Pool and Molly Shen, aired Dec. 8, 2013, on KOMO 4 TV. The annual holiday special celebrates the remarkable lives of Seattle Children's patients.

Play Video
Children’s Mental Health 0:00:30Expand

Mark Fadool, clinical director of mental health services at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, provides early warning signs of mental health issues in kids and teens and urges us all to notice the signs and act early.

Play Video