There is a run on gastroenteritis in our area.
Lately, it seems as if about half of the patients coming into the emergency department have some combination of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. School attendance has dropped by 15%.
I cringe when people call gastroenteritis the “stomach flu.” You can call it whatever you want, but just because the name that you choose to give to your symptoms has the word “flu” in it does not mean that it will get better with Tamiflu. Two different diseases. So demanding Tamiflu for your vomiting and diarrhea will do just about as much good as ingesting artichoke leaves. Only the Tamiflu will set you back about $100. Tamiflu only works for influenza. It does not work for “stomach flu” gastroenteritis.
The most common symptoms in influenza are fever, cough, sore throat, headache and body aches. Yes, some people also have vomiting and diarrhea with influenza, but those symptoms rarely occur in the absence of the others.
Plenty of fluids, medications such as Zofran and Imodium to relieve symptoms, and a bland diet are about all we can do until the disease runs its course. The symptoms usually last a few days and then resolve. Most often, outbreaks of gastroenteritis are caused by Norovirus, but other viruses may also be to blame.
The WhiteCoat household didn’t escape the wrath of the stomach flu this year. Two of my four kids have been home yesterday and today. Even though I felt bad for her, it was kind of funny when my 7 year old daughter came into my office yesterday and made the following statement:
“Dad, I don’t mean to alarm you, but I have pee coming out of my butt.”
No, honey, that’s diarrhea. Let’s go get you some Tamiflu.