Stomach virus still lingering?
February 16, 2009 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Almost a week ago I had a stomach virus (or possibly food poisoning, I guess), and I still don't feel back to normal. Is there anything I can do, or is this within the realm of normal?

Last Wednesday at 3 AM, I started throwing up, followed by diarrhea, about every 30 minutes. By 10 AM Wednesday, I was done vomiting. I ate nothing that day. The next day I ate almost nothing and spent most of the day on the couch. Friday I went to work but could still barely function.

I've never before had a gastro virus where I didn't feel 100% after 48 hours (and usually I feel almost normal within 24 hours).

Now it's Monday and I still feel like crap. I'm exhausted, can barely keep my eyes open. I have ZERO appetite. Food sounds repulsive. I feel weak and achy, and just have a general feeling of blah. I can't picture this feeling passing.

It reminds me of how I felt when I had mono, and it's like nothing I've ever experienced with any other bout of gastroenteritis.

Have you experienced this? When might it pass? Is there anything I can do at home that might help? When should I take further action?

On preview, there's absolutely no chance I could be pregnant, just to get that out of the way.
posted by peep to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
Well, if it is the flu, there's nothing a doctor can do at this point. Force fluids and food will help. You have to have these to regain energy.

Most commonly, that people call the flu really isn't. Real flu can wipe you out for some time.

I got sick like this once and it was 2 weeks out before I got energy back.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:10 AM on February 16, 2009

I had food poisoning (even a relatively mild case) over New Years and I was weak for close to a week and my stomach felt as big as a walnut for another week after that.

Good luck, have patience. It will return to normal.
posted by unixrat at 11:11 AM on February 16, 2009

Have you been getting enough water? You have alot of the symptoms of dehydration.
posted by Ugh at 11:11 AM on February 16, 2009

Here are some ideas about what could be the culprits, based on my personal experience with feeling bad. :)

Are you drinking enough clear fluids like water? Being dehydrated can make your energy level plummet.

Have you deprived yourself of your normal caffeine intake?

Do you smoke? Are you keeping up with your habit? Nicotine withdrawal is not fun. Some medications you take on a regular basis may have the same type of withdrawal symptoms.

Not eating makes me feel puny and yucky. Maybe try a fruit smoothie, something cold and sippable, until your appetite goes back to normal?

Have you tried taking something for the aches, like Tylenol or Advil, to see if that makes you feel better? When you don't have to deal with physical pain, your mental outlook may improve, and you may feel more motivation to eat, move around and feel more like yourself.

I hope you feel better soon!
posted by FergieBelle at 11:15 AM on February 16, 2009

Go see a doctor. It might be the flu, it might be something else. A few weeks ago I had similar symptoms with a low grade fever and blew them off thinking I had the flu. I put off seeing the doctor because what can the doctor do for the flu, right? When I finally saw the doctor, I was up to 103.2 and it turned out my problem was bacterial, not viral, and some antibiotics cleared it up in a day or two. So just sayin', if you've felt crappy for this long it might be time to see your primary care person.
posted by abirae at 11:26 AM on February 16, 2009

Also, do you have swollen lymph nodes? Fever? Diarrhea? If so, it is likely more than dehydration that is keeping you down and it's time to see a doctor. In the mean time Pedialyte (or watered down Gatorade in a pinch) will help you stay hydrated and Tylenol may help you feel less achy.
posted by abirae at 11:30 AM on February 16, 2009

I put off seeing the doctor because what can the doctor do for the flu, right?

Actually a doctor can do a lot to treat the flu now. You have to get there right away though.

Flu treatment (random google link grab, so not vouching for how reputable the site is. Pick your med wite of choice and double-check the information).
posted by cjorgensen at 11:44 AM on February 16, 2009

You need to get a stool culture if this continues. I had this and I thought I would recover, but instead I collapsed. Turned out the food poisoning had become chronic...yuck.
posted by melissam at 12:23 PM on February 16, 2009

Throwing up that much, coupled with diarrhea, takes a lot out of you. You're probably exhausted and achy because your body's been through hell and you haven't been eating.

I had food poisoning a couple weeks ago, same deal as you. The worst of it started at about 10pm and lasted until about 6am. I felt ill for another day and a half and was tired and feeling off for nearly a week after. The idea of most foods, particularly anything I ate the day I was sick, turned my stomach for that whole week.

If any part of you is worried that you might have someone else happening, might as well go and see the doctor or head over to a clinic. If nothing else, the peace of mind that comes from a doctor reassuring you that it's fine is worth the hour alone.

(In the meantime, force yourself to eat. Protein shakes at the very least. I wasn't hungry either, but you have to make an effort. You aren't providing your body with what it needs to heal itself.)
posted by Relic at 12:54 PM on February 16, 2009

Note that one of the common flus this season is actively resistant to Tamiflu, the antiviral flu treatment. Medical resistance - It's not just for bacteria anymore!

Doesn't matter in any case as you have to start it much more quickly than this.

You sound dehydrated to me; if you can't keep fluids down it's time to see a doctor.
posted by Justinian at 3:37 PM on February 16, 2009

In addition to the suggestions that everyone's made above, it might also be helpful to take a probiotic supplement to help your stomach get back to normal. Not just the yogurts with a little helpful bacteria in them, but the actual sachets with billions of them (they often sell them at health food stores). A friend who was still feeling unwell after awful long-term gastroenteritis in Peru had a doctor recommend them and it put her right again so it might help! Hope you feel better soon.
posted by Kirjava at 4:12 PM on February 16, 2009

Response by poster: some follow up:

1. I've had influenza; this is not that and I'm aware that the "stomach flu" isn't really the flu
2. I am no longer vomiting nor do I have diarrhea now. Everything's back to normal there!
3. I don't have a fever or swollen glands.
4. I lost 4 pounds in 2 days but I'm back to my normal weight.
5. I have no problems with getting enough fluids, nor am I vomiting ANY food. I just find it nearly impossible to eat. It sounds disgusting and if I eat a few bites of crackers or whatnot, I feel bloated and queasy.

So right now I'm forcing down small amounts of nutritious but bland food at regular mealtimes. I'm getting about 1400 calories a day. I'm short and not working out now, so this will have to do until I feel better.

The thing bothering me the most is the sheer exhaustion and the inability to run, or get any kind of exercise, really.
posted by peep at 4:17 PM on February 16, 2009

At one point I had a bout of food poisoning that left me feeling terribly weak for, well, a week. I didn´t feel so great the week after that either. If you aren´t feeling at least a bit better every day, and you have insurance, go to the doctor already.

It will help to eat very easy to digest foods, make sure you are getting enough protein. Tofu, those Odwalla shakes, or some sort of meal replacement drink might be more palatable right now. Do eat something with some fiber too, applesauce if nothing else works. Also, some people get low on electrolytes, so you might need more sodium and potassium.
posted by yohko at 11:46 PM on February 16, 2009

I get these kind of stomach viruses regularly. There's nothing that you can really do except ride it out. One thing that *has* helped is regularly drinking salt water, which is exactly what it sounds like: mix about two tablespoonfuls of salt into a mug of warm water. It tastes nasty but it always works to simply settle my stomach and allow me to eat very bland food (rice congee, bananas).
posted by so much modern time at 12:44 AM on February 17, 2009

Dehydration is going to be a problem if you have a lot of vomiting and diarhea in a short period of time. And dehydration can make your other symptoms worse and last longer. You want to rehydrate yourself as fast as you can but this can be a problem if you are having trouble keeping anything down.

So -- this worked for my daughter who had something that sounds very similar to what you had. I coached her through it via IM.

Buy a special rehydration solution -- NOT Gator aide or other sports drinks. These are usually not out on the shelves in drugstores so you need to ask the pharmacist. One brand is Pedialyte and there are others, of course.

Start sipping this just a little at a time -- like start with 2 T's and see if you can keep it down. If so, keep that up for an hour or two and then increase the amount. Once you have 6-8 ounces in you, you'll already start to feel better.

After you've stopped throwing up for 6 hours and if you're hungry, nibble saltine crackers or dry toast. Also keep up the hydration solution.

The doc's have meds now for treating nausea and if you are overwhelmed, that's a good thing to go in and get. Although you can also try Emetrol which is over the counter and works pretty well for nausea. Don't drink or eat for 10 minutes after taking it.

Zantac type drugs over the counter work if you have bad stomach cramps and can keep it down long enough for it to work.

Finally, there is the anti diarheal over the counter meds. I'd always read that you should avoid these unless you had an emergency like you had to take a bus trip. Because they just extended the problem longer rather than just letting everything be expelled from your body.

Now I'm reading and I don't know what scientific evidence there is for this, that it's okay to use something like imodium-AD to control cramping and diarhea. And I can tell you from personal experience that it works.

Anyone know more about whether using this type of drug when its not a travel emergency is now okay?
posted by Carina at 11:29 AM on February 23, 2009

« Older Why do I transpose words?   |   Reverse commute Clapham to Guildford Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.