Ask a Maui Doctor: Should I See a Doctor if I Have Stomach Flu?
Doctors at Minit Medical answer some of the questions submitted by readers.
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.
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.
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:
– 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
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