What are the symptoms of intestinal flu?

The symptoms of intestinal flu can range from mild to severe and may vary depending on the underlying viral infection. The symptoms generally resolve within 24 to 48 hours but may last up to 10 days.

Symptoms of intestinal flu can include:

  • Abdominal bloating, belching, or gas

  • Abdominal pain or cramps

  • Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, cough, aches, and pains)

  • Nausea, which may be described as a feeling of wooziness, queasiness, retching, sea sickness, car sickness, or an upset stomach

  • Vomiting including multiple episodes

  • Watery diarrhea including multiple episodes

  • Weakness (loss of strength)

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

Intestinal flu can lead to serious or life-threatening dehydration. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, your child, or someone you are with, have any of the following symptoms:

  • Change in alertness or consciousness such as passing out

  • Delirium

  • Extreme thirst

  • Inability to drink and hold down fluids

  • Lack of urination or fewer wet diapers in infants

  • Lethargy

  • Major rectal bleeding

  • Shallow, raspy, or difficulty breathing

  • Sunken fontanel (soft spot) in infants

  • Unresponsiveness


What is intestinal flu?

Intestinal flu is a viral infection of the gastrointestinal tract. The medical name is viral gastroenteritis, and other common names include stomach flu, or a 24-hour or 48-hour “bug.” It is the second most common illness affecting American families. Intestinal flu involves irritation and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and is not actually a form of flu or influenza.

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What causes intestinal flu?

Intestinal flu is caused by a gastrointestinal viral infection. These infections can be transmitted by contact with people who have intestinal flu, or by ingesting water or food contaminated with a gastrointestinal virus.

Common types of viruses that cause intestinal flu and gastroenteritis include:


How is intestinal flu treated?

Rehydration is the cornerstone of treatment for intestinal flu for all age groups and types of viral infections. Treatment plans also generally involve rest and minimizing the discomfort of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Treatment of intestinal flu may include:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases

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