Vomiting? Diarrhea? Stay hydrated
There are so many causes of nausea. Many of them cause vomiting and diarrhea, too.
But whether it’s a virus infection (gastroenteritis), a bacteria (food poisoning), hormones (pregnancy), medications (chemotherapy) or another medical condition (such as vertigo), the most important step is to stay hydrated.
Tips to stay hydrated:
- Break an ice cube into small pieces and suck on the ice chips.
- Take small sips of clear liquids. Water is fine, but for salt, sugar and other electrolytes, add other liquids like bone broth, non-caffeinated sports drinks, and regular 7 Up or Sprite.
- Make a mild ginger tea. A small number of studies suggest ginger helps relieve nausea. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over a tablespoon of grated raw ginger or ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger. Steep for several minutes, then strain. Add honey or sugar to taste.
- Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day.
If even a small amount of liquid makes you feel sick or throw up, stop and wait half an hour or until your stomach settles down, and then try again.
⚠Infants and young children can get dehydrated quickly if they can’t replace the fluids they are losing. Call your pediatrician’s office for more advice on treating vomiting and diarrhea, and when to seek medical help.
Home remedies for nausea
If you’re feeling queasy but not throwing up, there are a few things you can do to relieve the nausea.
Sit still. Don’t move around too much; losing your balance will aggravate the nausea. Lie or sit with your head elevated.
Use cool compresses. Wet a washcloth with cool water and place it on your forehead or behind your neck, whichever feels better.
Try ginger. As I mentioned above, ginger has been shown to relieve nausea in chemotherapy patients and pregnant women. However, those studies used capsules of powdered ginger, and it’s not been established what the best dose or the safest dose is. Pregnant women, especially, should check with their physician before trying ginger or any herbal remedy for nausea.
I like using fresh ginger, and either make a tea or chew on a quarter-sized slice of ginger root. Candied ginger is good, too.
But I don’t waste my money on ginger ale. According to Consumer Lab, most of the store-bought ginger ales have very little “real” ginger in them, and they contain huge amounts of sugar that I don’t want or need.
Try aromatherapy. We all know certain smells can make us sick. There’s evidence that other scents—ginger, spearmint, peppermint and cardamom—can actually relieve nausea. Put a drop or two of ginger or peppermint essential oil onto a cotton ball and inhale, or mix with mineral oil and dab on your temples, chest or wrists.
Eat lightly. If you’re able to keep liquids down, you can move on to small amounts of real food. Think white, bland and low-fiber—soda crackers, white toast, bananas, applesauce, white rice, eggs, and chicken.
Please don’t call gastroenteritis “the flu”
I don’t know when it started, but for decades people have been referring to gastroenteritis as the “stomach flu,” even though it has nothing to do with real flu, or influenza.
They come to the doctor and wonder why they got sick even though they had the flu shot, or think they’re protected for the same reason.
Influenza is also a caused by a virus, but it attacks the upper respiratory tract—the lungs, not the intestines.
So don’t expect the flu shot to protect you from the viruses that cause gastroenteritis!
Haha, I’ve been wanting to share that pet peeve of mine for some time 😄
The best way to protect yourself from gastroenteritis? Wash your hands!
For more about home remedies, here are my favorite books: