Upset Stomach

What is it?
"Upset stomach" is the term used to describe those symptoms accompanying the inflammation of the stomach or intestines. This inflammation, also known as gastroenteritis, can be caused by viruses, contaminated food, medications or exposure to unfamiliar bacteria during travel.
What are the symptoms?
  • Nausea (with or without vomiting)
  • Stomach cramps (with or without diarrhea)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling "blah" and weak

What can you do?
You can treat symptoms through diet. The following regime offers guidelines to follow. Note that the diet emphasized carbohydrates initially; these are more easily digested than proteins or fats.

Avoid eating or drinking during the initial six hours after vomiting has stopped. Try sucking on hard candy, taking sips of ice chips or posicles if you feel thirsty.
Continue to avoid solid foods for at least 24 hours; however, after the first six hours have passed, start drinking fluids to maintain strength and avoid dehydration. Fluids stay down better when taken in frequent sips. Aim for 2 quarts or more of clear liquids per day (i.e. flat ginger ale or cola, bouillon, apple juice, Jell-O, Gatorade®, weak tea with sugar). Avoid creamed soups or milk; they may increase diarrhea.
Add easily digested foods.

  • Canned peaches, pears, apricots
  • Bananas
  • Rice
  • Applesauce
  • Toast with jelly (no butter)
  • Crackers
  • Cream of wheat or rice (no milk) 

If you are feeling better and vomiting or diarrhea have not returned, you can add bland solid foods. These include:

  • Skinless baked or poached chicken
  • Boiled eggs
  • Baked or broiled lean meats
  • Baked potato
  • Avoid fatty, greasy and spicy foods as well as dairy products.

If you are feeling better and vomiting and/or diarrhea have not returned, you can add other foods.

Any time the vomiting or diarrhea return, start the diet over from the beginning and continue day by day, depending upon your symptoms.

Consult health care personnel:

  • if symptoms persist without improvement for more than 3 days.
  • if vomiting or diarrhea become severe or you are unable to keep liquids down.
  • if bleeding occurs with vomiting or with bowel movements (may look like coffee grounds, bright red or brown like tar).
  • if stomach cramps become severe.
  • if diarrhea is green.
  • if fever goes above 101°F (38.3°C) or a lower fever persists more than 3 days.
  • anytime you are unsure of what to do.

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