A common stomach trouble can even end up into a complicated issue, if proper care is not taken at the right time. The most common stomach disease is the ‘viral gastroenteritis’. Also known as stomach flu, this can be managed by proper fluid intake. Surprisingly, grape juice is highly beneficial in dealing with this ailment. This particular disease is caused by a viral infection of the stomach and intestinal lining which results in the excretion of watery diarrhea and vomiting.
Stomach flu is not only very common with all age groups but is also highly contagious. Generally led by small outbreaks in day care centers, schools and workplaces, this flu can vary from being mild to severe depending on the type of virus causing it, duration and intensity of the infection. Though it is a self-resolving infection, sometimes it can get severe if huge quantities of water and body salts are lost, leading to dehydration and hospitalization of the patient.
Stomach flu is different from food poisoning
Some people commonly misunderstand stomach flu with food poisoning. However, it is important to note that both the conditions along with the causative factors associated with them are different and obviously demand different modules of effective treatments. One of the most obvious ways to be infected with stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis is through direct contact with the infected person or with contaminated food as well water.
However, your immunity plays a major role in determining how rapidly the infection is being spread in your body. Contrary to which, people in the vulnerable category like infants, old age adults and people with the compromised immune system are the usual inhabitants of the stomach flu virus.
Importantly, with the current therapeutic modalities effective treatment is significantly lacking; hence, preventing the spread of infection is the ultimate key.
Types of stomach flu
In general, stomach flu can be categorized under four major sections related to the virus causing the infection. But all of them are transmitted by feco-oral route.
This particular virus is most common in infants under the age of 18 months, and is milder in adults. The symptoms start appearing in 1 to 3 days while the infection lasts for 3 to 8 days. The general signs are vomiting and diarrhea but in some extreme cases, it may also cause fever and abdominal pain.
This virus attacks children under the age of 4 years. The incubation period is 3 to 10 days while the diarrhea may last for 10 to 14 days.
This virus attacks all age groups but mostly appears in adults with less immunity level, as they are at a higher risk of getting it. The incubation period is about 24 hours while the symptoms last for up to 3 days.
This virus is common in infants and young children, though adults can also get it. The clinical symptoms appear after 3 to 5 days of exposure while the infection lasts for 3 to 7 days. Although this virus can occur all the year round but it seems to be more active during winter months.
Causes and risks
This infection thrives in contaminated water and food and when we intake this infected water and food – it travels into our system causing this infection to spread via feco-oral route. Further, coming in contact with the vomit and stool of the infected person can also result in spreading the virus, while if the infected person makes contact with eatables thus contaminating the same, this virus gets multiplied to alarming levels.
Also, a person preparing food is more likely to spread this virus, as a result he should be extra cautious in maintaining hygiene by washing hands regularly and thoroughly at regular intervals and especially after using the toilet. Not just this, he should also be careful while handling and serving sea-food and shellfish as these are harvested in contaminated water and under-cooked shellfish can also result in causing stomach flu.
Sewage is another source through which this virus can spread. If sewage water, by any chance, gets mixed with drinking water, this can result in the spreading this infection to a very large extent. Health workers and people with less immunity are at greater risks of getting attacked by this virus, so, they should follow necessary precautionary methods to avoid such situations.
Signs and symptoms
The most common symptoms of stomach flu are watery diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and abdominal cramps. In some cases, patients may even complain of fever, headache, muscle pain, blood and mucus with stool. Generally, these symptoms start occurring from 12 to 48 hours of exposure to the virus, however, they may vary from 1 to 7 days depending on the type of virus causing the infection.
In extreme cases, water and body salts may be lost in huge quantities leading to dehydration. The symptoms for the same are dry tongue, decreased consciousness, low blood pressure, lethargy, low urine output, soft skull in infants, sunken eyes and even skin rashes.
In most of the cases, a clinical evaluation might be sufficient, unless the situation worsens where the patient does not respond to conservative treatment of the fluids and symptomatic care. In such situations, further investigations are advisable like a stool test to ascertain the intensity of the viral growth or determination of the levels of urea, electrolyte and creatinine in the blood to avoid renal failure in cases of excessive dehydration.
This kind of infection in the stomach generally gets resolved on its own in course of time, all one has to do is take necessary precautions to prevent and treat dehydration. The patient is kept on fluids and electrolytes, an oral re-hydration solution being a must for all the infected. If a person is unable to take fluids orally, then an intravenous administration of fluids may be essential. However, no antibiotics are prescribed for such infections, anti-diarrhea medications can be opted for, only after consulting a doctor.
Experts suggest that two of the most instant signs of gastroenteritis are diarrhea as well as vomiting. Out of which, reports have suggested that although vomiting is settled very quickly, a person may exhibit a severe symptom of diarrhea that can last up to 10 days or more. However, it should be noted that if a person is continuously being fed on the fluid, he will not be dehydrated. Other important things that are to be noted are:
- It is crucial to consume a small amount of fluid, rather than a larger dose. You can always aim for a cup of any fluid you like for every 15 mins.
- In the case of children, it is always advisable to keep offering fluid every 15 mins to avoid dehydration and associated complications.
A person suffering from stomach flu is kept on fluids, but there are some liquids which should be avoided like fruit juices, plain glucose solution, soda and cola drinks. These drinks contain high levels of sugar which can cause osmotic diarrhea. However, after vomiting stops, the patient should be kept on a BRAT diet, viz. mashed bananas, plain white rice, grated apple and plain toast without butter.
Benefits of grape juice in dealing with stomach viruses
One such dietary change that is considered extremely beneficial for the treatment of stomach flu is the increased intake of grape juice. Let us check how grape juice can really help in dealing with stomach virus.
Grape Juice and dealing with stomach virus?
That would be the natural reaction of anyone who comes to know about this particular home remedy can help in dealing with stomach virus. However, studies have revealed that drinking grape juice just before the onset of the symptoms would actually prevent them from occurring, and get rid of the stomach virus before any complications arise.
According to these studies, an individual who comes in contact with another individual who has been affected by a highly contagious stomach virus, would have high chances of contracting the flu himself/herself. As such, if he/she opts to drink grape juice immediately afterwards (at least 2 glasses a day), he/he can stay safe from the virus causing the flu.
How it works?
When you get a stomach virus, it doesn’t literally mean that the virus is present in your stomach alone. Stomach viruses can travel to the large and small intestines and cause infections in these areas as well.
The virus alters the natural acidic balance of the stomach and intestines, increasing the acidity to the point that whatever you eat keeps coming back up or remains undigested in your stomach.
Grape juice prevents this from happening by balancing the natural pH of the stomach and intestinal tract. The juice tilts the balance slightly to the alkaline end, thereby providing an unfavorable environment in the stomach and intestinal tract for the stomach virus to multiply and spread.
The high Vitamin C and antioxidant content of grape juice would also inhibit the stomach virus from spreading. Over a period of time (and with regular intake of grape juice), the virus would die and be flushed out from the body.
But experts are of the opinion that pH level in our digestive system is way different and variable. If a virus enters the system and manages to survive the existing pH level, chances are less that they could be eradicated by grape juice.
Natural Vs Artificial juice
It is considered wise to drink only 100% grape juice in order to keep the stomach viruses at bay. While synthetic juices would have no effect on the virus, added sugars or sweeteners can actually create a favorable environment for the virus to grow and multiply in the stomach.
Individuals are also recommended to start drinking grape juice before the symptoms start setting in, for the juice would not have any effect on the virus after the symptoms start showing up.
How much grape juice should you take?
This can be confusing and may vary considering the acidic level created in your intestine. Perhaps, this may be the reason that grape juice is not effective for everybody in dealing with stomach virus.
There are claims stating drinking a glass of grape juice thrice a day after being exposed to stomach virus will prevent you from getting sick. This is based on some personal experiences not on clinical observations. Despite the invalidated claims, you can give a try since there is no proof as well that this will create an opposite reaction.
What are the different types of fluids that can be offered to children?
Children are more vulnerable to viral gastroenteritis of all. Doctors suggest certain fluids be offered to babies to prevent them from experiencing the most common causes and symptoms of stomach flu.
- Babies who are breastfed should be offered more frequently and on demand.
- Children who are on formula milk can be offered both formulae as well as electrolyte solution at an interval of 15 to 20 min.
- Children above 1 year can be offered cow’s milk, juice, water, electrolyte solution etc. depending upon their preferences.
How can you be safe?
Experts have suggested various ways to prevent the spread of infection and avoid some of the most common causes as well as symptoms of stomach flu, accordingly, some of them can be noted as:
Get your child vaccinated immediately
There are multiple countries all over the globe, which can offer vaccination against rotavirus, to provide complete protection from gastroenteritis and avoid most of the common causes and symptoms of stomach flu.
Personal items are never to be shared
It is always advisable to keep your personal items limited to your use only, you can even include glasses, plates, spoons, and towels in your list of personal items if possible!
Teach your children to wash their hands thoroughly
Often children tend to be infected after using public toilets. It would always be a good advice to ask your children to wash their hands thoroughly at least for 20+ seconds, especially with warm water as well as antiseptic soap. They should be taught to wash their cuticles, nails, as well as in the creases of the hands. If in case, soaps and warm water are not handy, you can even ask them to carry hand sanitizers to safeguard their health.
Be careful while choosing a right child care center!
You need to always make sure that the child care center you choose for your kid always has separate rooms for changing nappies, preparing food and serving them out. A center should follow appropriate guidelines to maintain cleanliness and sanitization.
Take precautions while traveling
If in case you are traveling across, you need to take proper precautions to avoid contaminated food and water. The risk of exposure to the contaminated substance can be minimized by drinking only distilled water that is sealed. You can avoid raw, uncooked food, which has been exposed to human handling.