How Long Does a Stomach Bug Last For?

A young dark-haired woman holds her stomach in pain while laying on her side at homeIf you’ve ever experienced a “stomach bug,” there’s a good chance that what you actually had was an intestinal infection known as viral gastroenteritis. Also referred to as the stomach flu, a stomach bug usually lasts only a day or two. However, some cases may last up to two weeks, which is why it’s important to know as much as possible about this infection in case you or someone you know contracts it. With that said, PhysicianOne Urgent Care is here to help you learn more about stomach bugs and why they last for the amount of time that they do.

Causes of Viral Gastroenteritis

When it comes to how viral gastroenteritis is spread, most cases develop through contact with an infected person or through the consumption of contaminated food or water. Despite that it is sometimes called the stomach flu, influenza does not cause a stomach bug. Actual causes include:

  • Noroviruses – This type of virus is the primary cause of foodborne illnesses around the world, but it can also be spread from person to person or by touching contaminated surfaces. For adults who contract a stomach bug, a norovirus is the likely culprit.
  • Rotavirus – This is the predominant cause of viral gastroenteritis in children, although adults and food can still spread the illness. It is most common in infants and young children as they are more likely to put their fingers or other contaminated objects into their mouths.

The Symptoms of a Stomach Bug

Symptoms of a stomach bug can include stomach cramps, watery diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, occasional muscle aches, headache, and even a low-grade fever. While these signs are common for gastroenteritis, there are some signs that should warrant immediate attention from a healthcare provider:

  • Severe dehydration
  • A fever above 104 F
  • Vomiting blood
  • Vomiting or diarrhea that has lasted for more than two days
  • Intense stomach pain
  • An inability to keep liquids down for 24 hours

Viral gastroenteritis can go away on its own and typically lasts only a couple days at most, but certain individuals—such as young children, older adults, anyone living in a dorm or close shared quarters, and anyone with a weakened immune system—are at increased risk of contracting the illness and may also require more intensive treatment.

Where to Seek Treatment for a Stomach Bug

While there is no specific effective treatment for viral gastroenteritis, it’s important to have a local source of care available if you do come down with a stomach bug that just won’t budge. Prevention is also key, which is why avoiding known contaminants and washing your hands often is recommended.

Stomach bugs may not last for long, but the expert team at PhysicianOne Urgent Care can help if you do need to seek professional care. Our walk-in urgent care centers are open during extended hours every day of the year, and we even offer Virtual Visits to ensure you can receive the medical attention you need whenever you need it. Contact us today at 860-650-3848 to learn more about our services and to speak with a member of our team.

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