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Stomach Bugs: diarrhea & vomiting

If you would like further in depth help with a stomach bug, stomach flu, or outbreak of vomiting or diarrhea in your home, or other acute illnesses then please get in touch or make an appointment for my half hour Drop In Phone/Skype Clinic. Existing patients and those with short queries are welcome to use my FREE 15 minute Check in appointment for advice. Those with more longstanding complaints should book a full Face2Face of Skype consultation. I work internationally via Skype or face-to-face in Brixton, London.

Common Signs or Symptoms

  • Fever and/or chills, retching, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

  • Irritability, anxiety, lassitude or exhaustion.

  • Cramping, churning stomach pains

  • Lack of appetite

  • Sensitivity to odours, particularly cooking smells.

  • Typically last 24-48 hours

What causes diarrhea and vomiting? Diarrhea and vomiting, gastroenteritis or stomach flu can be caused by a number of different viruses that attack your gut. These infections can be contracted from food that was inadequately prepared/stored or rotten (food poisoning) or from another person who has the infection. Typically, the infection is very contagious and often can run through everyone in the house in a matter of days.

Noroviruses. Both children and adults are affected by noroviruses, the most common cause of foodborne illness worldwide. Norovirus infection can sweep through families and communities. It's particularly likely to spread among people in confined spaces. In most cases, you pick up the virus from contaminated food or water, although person-to-person transmission also is possible.

Rotavirus. This is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in children worldwide, who are usually infected when they put their fingers or other objects contaminated with the virus into their mouths. The infection is most severe in infants and young children. Adults infected with rotavirus may not have symptoms, but can still spread the illness. 

Some shellfish, especially raw or under cooked oysters, can also make you ill. Although contaminated drinking water is a cause of viral diarrhea, in many cases the virus is passed through the fecal-oral route — that is, someone with a virus handles food you eat without washing his or her hands after using the toilet.

Is a stomach bug a serious health problem?

While very debilitating and sometimes painful, most common stomach bugs resolve within 24-48 hours. However severe or long lasting stomach bugs make a person feel seriously unwell. The NHS advice for stomach bugs is that you seek medical help if you fit into any of the categories below.

See your GP for advice and treatment if:

  • You are not able to keep liquids down for 24 hours

  • You've been vomiting for more than two days

  • You're vomiting blood

  • You're dehydrated — signs include excessive thirst, dry mouth, deep yellow urine or little or no urine, and severe weakness, dizziness or light headedness

  • You notice blood in your bowel movements

  • You have a fever above 104 F (40 C)

For babies and children

See your doctor right away if your child:

  • Has a fever of 102 F (38.9 C) or higher

  • Seems lethargic or very irritable

  • Is in a lot of discomfort or pain

  • Has bloody diarrhea

  • Seems dehydrated — watch for signs of dehydration in sick infants and children by comparing how much they drink and urinate with how much is normal for them

If you have a young baby, remember that while spitting up may be usual for your baby, vomiting is not considered normal. Babies vomit for many reasons, and the majority may require medical attention. Call your doctor immediately if your baby:

  • Has vomiting that lasts more than several hours

  • Hasn't had a wet diaper in six hours

  • Has bloody stools or severe diarrhea

  • Has a sunken fontanelle (soft spot) on the top of their head

  • Has a dry mouth or cries without tears

  • Is unusually sleepy, drowsy or unresponsive


Some self help measures:
  • Fluids are very important as you are losing vital bodily fluids through perspiration, vomiting, or diarrhea. Take small sips (best are an electrolyte replacement drink, water, ginger or peppermint tea, or broth) or suck on ice cubes.

  • Electrolyte replacement - To address the loss of valuable electrolytes such as potassium you can make you own electrolyte replacement drink for both adults & children although is very important that the exact measurements are used in preparation as too much sugar can worsen diarrhea, and too much salt is very bad for a child: 

    • Mix 6 level teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 level teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 litre of clean water. Making the mixture a little too diluted (with more than 1 litre of  water) is not harmful.

  • If there is a fever, it is best NOT to eat. 

  • If there is no fever but there is hunger, small amounts of banana, rice, apple sauce, toast (BRAT foods) can help.

  • if your baby cannot accept any fluids then rubbing olive oil into the soles of their feet may help.a little.

  • Both the sick person and other members in proximity should wash their hands frequently as well as anything touched by the sick person such as taps and door handles.

Can I use Homeopathy for a Stomach Bug?

First Aid Homeopathy means that you will need a homeopathic remedy kit as part of your home medicine cabinet such as the Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy 'Basic 36' (30c) and 'Emergency' kits (200c). If you don't yet have a kit, you can call Helios and they will advise over the phone and send the right remedies out the same or next day. You may also find the remedy you are looking for at your local Holland & Barrett or health food store. 


If you suffer from stomach bugs frequently then a visit to your GP alongside constitutional homeopathic treatment to address your overall health is recommended. If you need help right now for a stomach bug  then you can try one of the remedies from the list below. Choose the remedy where the symptoms listed for it fit best to your symptoms. You may not have all the symptoms, but one or two will stand out. 


*  Involuntary stool on passing wind * Diarrhea (worse 5-6am) with gurgling before stool and lots of gas *  Jelly-like mucus in stool * Cutting pains and pulsations around navel, worse after stool * Abdomen is heavy & full, hot & bloated  * Spastic colitis where pain extends over body * Often comes with nausea and headache * Better for COLD applications.

Arsenicum Album

Great weakness, esp after diarrhea  * * Great anxiety and restlessness with the nausea, doesn’t want to be alone  *  Thirsty for small sips (usually room temp) * Better heat, warm drinks * Very chilly *  Worse between 1-3am * Vomiting & diarrhea at the same time * Stool: can be burning, acidic, yellow, very offensive * Vomiting immediately after drinking smallest amount * 


* Vomiting of undigested food * Slow digestion *  Hungry and longing for food which stays undigested * Flatulence * Belching of bitter fluid with no relief * Worse eating fruit * Internal coldness of stomach & abdomen * 


* Severe unrelenting nausea * Nausea not better from vomiting * Nausea with lots of  salivation * Faintness after vomiting * Waves of vomiting * May be caused by excessive eating *  Pains in abdomen * Lots of gas * Green stool

Nux vomica

* Irritable mood * * Great anxiety accompanies the nausea * Chilly, even with a fever * Has repeated urges to vomit, pass stool but cannot  * Lots of retching * Hypersensitivity to noise, light, odors, being questioned * Spasmodic, cramping pains * Complaints worse in the morning in bed on on waking * 


* Afraid to be alone, of the dark, etc * Wants and better from cold drinks  * Better from sleeping, a nap * Vomiting 15-20 minutes after drinking even a small amount * Has an appetite with the fever * Watery, greenish, mucousy diarrhea * Burning pains eg. throat , intestines or rectum * 


*Painless diarrhea * Forceful, gushing stool which shoots out * Frothy, fermented stool * Yellow stool with pieces of food (lienteric) * Great weakness after diarrhea * 


*  Weepy, clingy with despair * Craves and feels generally better from fresh air, esp nausea * Feels better from reassurance, company * Not thirsty, even with the fever *  Nausea (and generally) worse heat, warm drinks, better cold * Worse evening * 


* Foul-smelling diarrhea (possibly like rotten eggs) * Diarrhea gets patient out of bed in the morning, esp 5am, waking with urging * Thirsty for cold drinks * Feeling overly warm and wanting to uncover *  Red lips or ears (more in children) * Involuntary stool on passing gas (compare Aloe) * Nausea worse from bad odors * Standing aggravates most complaints * 

Veratrum Album

* Cold perspiration on forehead with diarrhea and vomiting * Huge thirst for cold water * Craving for sour things * Burping after eating and heartburn * Diarrhea worse from motion * Involuntary stool on passing gas * Violent, forceful vomiting with equally forceful, gushing diarrhea * Acidic diarrhea * 

What's the correct dose?  

You should take one dose (one pill) in the 200c potency if you have it to hand, and then wait (unless you are a sensitive person - ie. a tendency to allergies - in which case you should use 30c potency only). Repeat after 20 minutes if necessary. If you only have 30c potency then you can give more ie. three or four times, 20 minutes apart each time. If the patient does not feel any relief, try the next remedy on the list that appears to fit best to the patient's symptoms.


PS. Put the remedy under the tongue and let it dissolve in the mouth.  If possible avoid eating and drinking for 10 minutes before and after taking the remedy, and avoid touching it with your hands - try tipping it into your mouth from the bottle lid, or with a clean spoon.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider. First aid situations may require medical or hospital care. Do not use this article as a means to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think that your condition may be serious, before discontinuing any medication that has been prescribed for you, or before starting any new treatment.


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