There are few things that I dread as a parent more than the stomach flu. The mere utterance of the word and it makes me want to quarantine my children in our house until it seems that the virus has passed. That’s not reality; no one can hide in their house for months on end until it seems that prime stomach flu season has passed. So how exactly do you prevent the stomach flu?
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How can you keep the stomach flu away?
Keep your hands CLEAN before you put them or anything they’ve touched in your mouth. Contrary to what you may think about the stomach flu, the virus is nothing like seasonal flu. Influenza is spread through the air and viral gastroenteritis (the fancy name for stomach flu) and the Norovirus (the really nasty stomach flu) is spread orally through fecal matter. What does this mean? Wash your hands!!!! As gross as it sounds, to have two words like oral and fecal, come together that is how viral gastroenteritis is spread. Think about it: Baby throws up all over the car, mom has to then clean the car out, including all of the toys that happened to be in the line of spew-age. Then, big brother, who loves to chew on any and everything, picks up the cap to a pen that was in the line of fire and you guessed it, starts chewing on the pen cap. BAM! 48 hours and brother is now tossing his cookies. The cycle just goes on and on and on.
How can you prevent the stomach flu?
Personally, since I know that one of the main ways the stomach flu is spread is from the hands (or a random object like a toy) to the mouth, I keep hand sanitizer in my purse for quick and easy hand washing when soap and water isn’t handy.
Does grape juice prevent stomach flu?
Yes, grape juice. Call me crazy but it works and no, there isn’t any real scientific study that can back up the claim that it works. What I have to go on is my own experience with this little trick as well as a whole host of other people on the Internet (the Internet never lies, right? wink wink).
When gastroenteritis rears its ugly head in your home, all family members who are not (that is key) infected must drink three 8 oz glasses of pure grape juice each day for a week. My family and I have been doing this for the last three years and I swear by it (not solely, as disinfecting surfaces and washing hands is also key to keeping your house clean of spreading the virus). We always have grape juice on hand in our home and it hasn’t failed us yet.
Sure there are exceptions to every rule, however, if you stay on top of it, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
How does grape juice prevent the stomach flu?
What’s the theory behind it? The theory is that gastroenteritis prefers an acidic environment to breed and make you sick. The tannens in the grape juice do a good job of creating an alkaline environment which prevents the virus from sticking. (This is totally my way of explaining it although if you want a more scientific explanation visit these resources – Alkaline Foods Support Homeostasis And Protect Against Disease and untitled but very fancy scientific paper)
Other than grape juice, what else can you do to prevent the stomach flu?
Disinfect those contaminated surfaces! When the stomach flu enters our house, I bring out the big guns – Clorox Healthcare Hydrogen Peroxide, because it claims to actually kill the Norovirus and I tend to trust this woman because she’s devoted her entire life to studying the stomach flu. For everyday cleanup, at the end of the day I also like to use Softy Wipes. Yes, not only are they safe for you to use on your hands but they’re strong enough to use on your household surfaces!
While symptoms of the stomach flu last anywhere between 24 and 48 hours the virus itself sheds for up to two weeks. Yeah, you’re contagious two weeks after you’ve recovered from illness and that means everyone else is also shedding the virus for up to two weeks. WASH AND SANITIZE YOUR HANDS BEFORE YOU EAT!!!!!!
Grapefruit Seed Extract – Grapefruit Seed Extract has been proven to kill a surrogate Norovirus (not the human kind, specifically the equivalent of what a cat would get). GSE has tons of great properties that are useful to have on a daily basis: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, and antimicrobial. I use it and it hasn’t failed me yet.
Activated Charcoal – Activated Charcoal is used in emergency rooms when a patient has overdosed or is experiencing food poisoning; basically it absorbs the toxins (and anything else) in the intestines. I use this article whenever someone gets sick to help me with dosage. The thing you have to be careful with using activated charcoal is to not consume anything that you want your body to absorb like medications. This is a more “extreme” measure. My family and I have been using activated charcoal to help with our tummy aches for years now and it’s not an everyday thing, it has worked for us.
What is the best preventative measure for the stomach flu?
I think the biggest thing to keep in mind when it comes to stomach flu prevention or any communicable disease is that hygiene really is king. You can drink all of the grape juice in the world, however, if you aren’t washing your hand, using hand sanitizer or regularly cleaning the surfaces in your home you are going to get sick. The key to prevention is being prepared; always have hand sanitizer for clean hands when soap and water are not available, grape juice (to prevent the rest of your family from getting the stomach flu) and Clorox Healthcare Hydrogen Peroxide for the serious disinfecting needs.
Bert Anderson is a blogger and social media manager mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She’s the author behind the blog First Time Mom, where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or 19, there’s a first time for everything. She’s a lover of coffee, conversations, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.