Stomach Bug

What is it?

  • It is associated with a group of symptoms sometimes called the “stomach flu”.
  • Symptoms may be in the upper stomach or lower abdomen.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and/or bloating
  • Low fever


  • Food poisoning – this is not as usual as people think it is. You need to ask if other people who ate the same things you did have the same symptoms as you do. This is more likely if you have recently traveled to certain areas such as Mexico.
  • A few medical conditions such as gall bladder problems – this is the least common cause of these symptoms
  • Virus – this is the most frequent cause of these symptoms. There are many different viruses that can cause this.


  • Let your stomach rest. Do not force yourself to eat.
  • You can try sucking on ice chips or popsicles.
  • Drink small amounts of clear liquids, such as water or Gatorade, frequently. This would be something like an ounce of fluids every 20 minutes. Drink the beverage slowly.
  • Avoid dairy products. These are harder to digest and will increase your symptoms. This includes butter on your toast.
  • When you do start eating, eat bland foods such as crackers or pretzels.
  • Avoid fried or greasy foods.
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine.
  • You may use over the counter medications such as Pepto-Bismol or Immodium to control symptoms as the package instructions say.
  • There are prescription medications that can relieve nausea. You will need to come to the Student Health Center for this type of treatment.
  • Sometimes if you are not able to keep fluids down or are having frequent watery diarrhea, you will become dehydrated. IV fluids may need to be given (usually done at ER).

When to seek treatment

  • If you become dehydrated – you have not been able to drink anything for 24 hours, you have not been able to urinate for many hours, you feel dizzy or have severe weakness, etc.
  • If you throw up or have diarrhea and it is bloody or black colored.
  • If the vomiting continues for greater than 2 or 3 days.
  • The nausea is accompanied by severe pain or a severe headache. This is especially true if you have never had this kind of headache or pain.
  • If you have a fever greater than 101 F


  • Wash your hands frequently. This is the best way to prevent getting any virus, bacteria or other organism.
  • Do not share from other students’ food or beverages.
  • When traveling, drink only bottled water, brush your teeth with bottled water, avoid raw food that has been touched by human hands, and avoid undercooked meats and fish.