Viral gastroenteritis is often referred to as the stomach flu or a 24-hour stomach virus. In most cases, the stomach flu clears up on its own after one to three days. In some cases, it can last as long as 10 days. Viral gastroenteritis can be caused by one of several viruses and is most common from October through April. Washing your hands often and avoiding contact with people who are sick are the most effective ways to prevent a stomach virus.
Diarrhea and Nausea
One of the most common symptoms of a stomach virus is diarrhea. It may be watery and very frequent. Nausea, with or without vomiting, is usually present during a stomach virus. Drinking only a sip at a time of very cold water or other clear beverages can help you stay hydrated. Drinking more than a sip at a time can cause you to vomit again.
Abdominal cramping and pain may range from mild to severe. While the cramping and gas pains that go along with viral gastroenteritis are common, if the pain starts suddenly or is accompanied by chest or shoulder pain, seek medical care.
Viral gastroenteritis can sometimes cause a fever, along with chills, sweating, muscle aches and fatigue. You may also have a headache with the 24-hour stomach virus. Dehydration may occur with this illness. Symptoms of dehydration include unintentional weight loss, dry mouth, dry skin, dark-colored urine and extreme thirst.
Call your doctor if you are not able to keep any fluids down or if you have been vomiting for more than 2 days. Call immediately if you see blood in your vomit or stools. If watery, frequent diarrhea or abdominal pain lasts longer than 2 days, call your doctor.