Maui Discussion

Ask a Maui Doctor: Should I See a Doctor if I Have Stomach Flu?

August 19, 2017, 9:00 AM HST
* Updated August 19, 9:12 AM
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Doctors at Minit Medical answer some of the questions submitted by readers.

Stomach Flu. Stock Photo

Each week, a doctor from Minit Medical Kahului or Lahaina will answer questions that have been submitted by readers. Submit your own medical related questions to our doctors at [email protected].

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask a Maui Doctor” column.

Q: When should I see a doctor if I have “stomach flu?”

A: Stomach Flu is a term that is thrown around a lot. It is not a type of flu at all, but inflammation of the lining of the intestines that is usually caused by virus or bacteria.

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The medical term is gastroenteritis and while it may be fun for medical folk to try to figure out what the offending organism might be (norovirus is the most common in adults, rotavirus in kids), the most important thing for patients to know is that they present with some form of nausea/vomiting/diarrhea. Associated symptoms include abdominal cramping, fever/chills and headache.

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Most are self limiting within a few days and do not require treatment. However, if there is persistent nausea, there is medication that can be prescribed to help; if symptoms lasts longer than 48 hours, dehydration can occur, especially in children and elderly from losing too much fluid. IV fluids can help alleviate lightheadedness.

Antibiotics are considered for the more serious bacterial causes including salmonella/shigella but stool cultures are required to identify the organism beforehand. These are usually spread by eating undercooked poultry or eggs. If you see blood in your stool or have high fevers, you might need antibiotics.

In short, get medical help if:

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– Vomiting persists more than two days
– Diarrhea persists more than several days
– Diarrhea turns bloody
– Fever is 101 F (38.3 C) or higher
– Lightheadedness or fainting occurs with standing
– Confusion develops
– Worrisome abdominal pain develops

**The contents of this article such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained in this article (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by in this article is solely at your own risk.

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