What Clear Liquids Are Best When One Has a Stomach Virus?

Teenage girl with heat pad on stomach
Stomach virus. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Anyone who has ever had a stomach virus knows that this type of illness can make a person pretty miserable. Nausea, vomiting and possible fever can deplete the body of nutrients and hydration. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases advises people who are suffering from a stomach virus to start eating again gradually. The first step towards regaining strength can be drinking clear liquids. Clear liquids tend to allow the digestive system to settle without irritating the stomach further with additives such as caffeine and alcohol. Determining the best clear liquid to take while in the midst of a stomach virus will depend on the exact symptoms and each person's individual taste.

Water

Close-up of a woman drinking water from a glass
Start hydrating by sipping water. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Water is the purest clear liquid that exists and can help people rehydrate during a bout of stomach flu. Drinking water in small sips rather than large gulps is recommended by the NIDDK. Once a person can tolerate small sips of water without experiencing nausea or vomiting, he can continue drinking larger amounts of water. Sucking on ice chips may be more palatable during periods of extreme nausea.

Oral Rehydration Beverages

Transparent plastic bottles
Rehydration drinks can help stomach viruses. (Image: pigphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Oral rehydration drinks are widely available in grocery stores and pharmacies and are a good choice of clear beverage for people who are ill with a stomach viruses. The drinks help restore the natural balance of electrolytes that may be disrupted when a person is vomiting frequently. Though the marketing of oral rehydration liquids is mainly aimed toward the parents of babies and young children, the drinks are perfectly safe for older children and adults to use as well.

Sports Drinks

Close up of two bottles of soft drink
Sports drinks. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If oral rehydration drinks do not appeal, sipping a sports drink can provide many of the same nutrients. Sports drinks are designed to help athletes maintain the optimum balance of electrolytes, as they lose these essential vitamins and minerals as they sweat during a workout. People who suffer from a stomach bug can also replenish their bodies with sports drinks. This type of beverage may not be tolerated as well as water or oral rehydration drinks, due to the increased sugar content. Start slowly with a few sips of a sports drink before progressing to a full glass.

Clear Soft Drinks

Glass of soda on table, close up
Glass of clear soda. (Image: Hue/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Some people find that they can keep down a clear soft drink, such as a lemon-lime soda, while they are sick. Others may feel worse due to the excess gas that is produced from the carbonation. Clear soft drinks, unlike colas, do not contain caffeine, which is likely to irritate the stomach lining.

Decaffeinated Tea

Cup of hot tea with fresh mint leaves
Hot tea. (Image: ekapong laksanapiya/iStock/Getty Images)

Hot tea is a clear liquid that is safe to drink while in the throes of a stomach virus. Caffeine-free tea is best in order to help the stomach settle. Drink tea without milk, as dairy products are very likely to cause stomach problems when the digestive system is already fragile.

Clear Broth

chicken broth
Chicken broth in bowl. (Image: zkruger/iStock/Getty Images)

Clear chicken or vegetable broth can help calm a sick stomach and provide some nutrition at the same time. Low-fat or fat-free broths are best, as fatty foods and drinks are a common stomach irritant. Once clear soup is tolerated, chicken and vegetables may be added gradually.

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