How Long Does Stomach Flu Last?

February 7, 2024

How Long Does Stomach Flu Last?
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Stomach Flu

A viral infection that affects the small intestine and stomach is called stomach flu. Viral gastroenteritis is another name for it. Usually, the illness lasts between one and three days.

Stomach Flu

The digestive tract, which breaks down food in your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine (colon), is responsible for processing food. An infection of these organs brought on by a virus is known as stomach flu/viral gastroenteritis.Stomach flu targets your intestines.Intestinal infections such as watery diarrhoea, cramping in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, and occasionally fever are indications and symptoms of stomach flu.

Symptoms of Stomach Flu

Your stomach and intestines are inflamed while fighting a stomach flu, which causes these symptoms. 

  • Diarrhoea is the most typical symptom of the stomach flu.
  • Throwing up and nausea.
  • A decrease in appetite.
  • Cramps and discomfort in the abdomen.

However, you may experience systemic symptoms if your illness is more serious or if your immune system responds to the infection more forcefully. Inflammation in bodily systems other than the digestive system is the cause of these symptoms. These symptoms are the immune system’s next stage of reaction to the stomach flu.Some of these symptoms are:

  • Temperature, chills, and exhaustion
  • Pains in the body
  • Headache
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

Stomach Flu Stages

1st Stage: The first stage of a stomach flu infection is exposure. The majority of cases of stomach flu are contracted from people in your local area, particularly in enclosed spaces like nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships. Since it takes time for symptoms to appear, you may learn about an outbreak after being exposed.

2nd Stage: Incubation is the second stage of stomach flu infection. As soon as the virus enters your body, it will start to replicate. This is the stage of incubation. Until the virus multiplies sufficiently to trigger an immune response, you won’t experience symptoms. Several days are typically needed for this, depending on the pathogen.

3rd Stage: An acute infection is the third stage of stomach flu infection. As an acute infection, viral gastroenteritis is rapid and transient in nature. Your immune system initiates an inflammatory response to eradicate the virus as soon as it detects a threat. This is the cause of disease symptoms. Once it is successful, the symptoms will go away.

4th Stage: Convalescence is the fourth stage. When your immune system defeats the infection, you’ll notice a decrease in your symptoms. Your symptoms will eventually go away, and you’ll get better. However, you can still be contagious for a few days if the virus is still present in your faeces.

Causes of Stomach Flu

Your digestive tract can become infected with a variety of viruses, leading to gastroenteritis.

Norovirus – Norovirus is the most prevalent. This is the main cause of adult stomach flu. It is more resilient than others to changes in temperature and cleaning agents.

Rotavirus – In children globally, rotavirus is the primary cause of stomach flu. Adults are generally immune to this virus though. Now, a vaccine is available for this kind of stomach flu.

Astrovirus – Astroviruses typically impact youngsters under the age of three. They frequently propagate via daycare facilities. But senior care facilities are another way they might proliferate.

Adenovirus – Although gastrointestinal infections can result from inadvertent ingestion, adenoviruses are more frequently responsible for respiratory illnesses. Ages are all susceptible to their infection.

Spread of Stomach Flu Virus

Stomach flu usually spreads by the faeces to the mouth. The virus lives in the faeces  and vomit of infected people. Microscopic traces of infected faeces or vomit may linger on people’s hands or surfaces. These traces can transfer to food and water sources. You might ingest the virus through contaminated food or water, or by touching an infected person or surface and then touching your mouth.

Preventing Stomach Flu

By maintaining proper hygiene, you can lower your chance of contracting the stomach flu and infecting others.Among them are:

  • Hand washing: Since hand sanitizer isn’t always effective, proper handwashing is the most vital line of prevention against stomach flu viruses. It’s crucial to do this before handling food and particularly after using the restroom or changing a diaper.
  • Cleaning up: Anything that you or the afflicted individual touched should be cleaned and disinfected. Particularly in the bathroom, use bleach and water to disinfect surfaces. 
  • Handling food safely: Bacteria, viruses that cause stomach flu, and other microorganisms can contaminate food. Proper meal preparation can lessen this danger. It is best to avoid handling food for other people if you already have the stomach flu.

Timeline for Stomach Flu

If your immune system is in good working order, there’s a strong chance your symptoms will clear up rather soon. Some stomach flu sufferers may not even show any symptoms.

Depending on which virus is causing your symptoms, the time frame for viral gastroenteritis symptoms varies:

  • Astrovirus: This infection usually goes away in two to three days.
  • Enteric adenoviruses: These infections may require up to two weeks to treat.
  • Norovirus: In most cases, norovirus goes away in a few days.
  • Rotavirus: The duration of this virus varies from three to eight days.
  • Sapovirus: This infection often lasts a few days. Up to a week may pass while experiencing diarrhoea.

When should I see a Doctor?

You should consult your doctor if you notice the following:

  • After four- five days, your symptoms are still there.
  • Your fever has been elevated for the past four days (over 102 degrees Fahrenheit or 39 degrees Celsius).
  • It has been two days since you last had a bowel movement.
  • You think you may be dehydrated.
  • There’s blood in your excrement.
  • You’re experiencing intense stomach ache.


Rarely does stomach flu continue more than two or three days. It can take a week or two, though, for your bowel movements to fully return to normal. One of the stomach flu’s potentially dangerous side effects is dehydration.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. For what duration is the stomach flu contagious?

When you have symptoms during the acute phase of the virus and for a few days later, you are most contagious. After recovering, though, you might still be a bit contagious for up to two weeks.

2. Who is susceptible to stomach flu?

Although stomach flu can strike everyone, some people are more susceptible than others. You may be more susceptible to illness or a more serious infection if your immune system is less robust than usual.

3. How are stomach flu cases diagnosed by doctors?

Based on your symptoms, doctors frequently diagnose stomach flu. Without performing a lab test to determine its type, they won’t be able to determine whether it’s viral. However, this is usually not required.

4. What’s the easiest approach to cure a stomach flu?

A bland diet and adequate hydration, however, can help with symptom reliefs in case of stomach flu.If the symptoms persist after 3-4 days, consult your doctor.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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