Stomach bugs and the Holidays

Southern Ute Health Services

We hope that you all enjoyed getting together with family and friends for Thanksgiving. Every year one of the kids has a runny nose or cough that we hope not to catch, while still wanting to spend time being close and not in quarantine. The worst-case scenario is if someone comes down with a stomach bug while we’re all gathered in close quarters.

When a family member gets the stomach bug, its sure to spread quickly, and is hard to kill. It spreads through contact with vomit or fecal matter.

How to protect yourself from the stomach bug

  • Wash hands with soap and water often, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.
  • Avoid touching your face or mouth.
  • Stay away from others who are sick, unless you are their caregiver.
  • Designate a place for sick people to rest, away from those who are still healthy.
  • Use a separate bathroom for sick people, and clean it after each use, wiping down handles, faucets, and doorknobs.
  • Clean vomit or fecal matter with bleach-based cleaners or make a solution of 3/4 cup bleach in one gallon of water. Let the solution cover surfaces for five to ten minutes before wiping it away. Use a steam cleaner for carpets and upholstery. Wash laundry on hot or sanitize setting to kill the virus.
  • Use disposable gloves and paper towels for cleaning up after someone who has been sick. Throw the gloves and paper towels away immediately, then take out the trash and wash your hands.

If you get sick

  • Stay home. You may be contagious while you feel sick, and for up to 3 days after you get well.
  • Don’t prepare food for someone else, since the virus can be passed through food you touch.
  • Wash hands with soap and water often, especially after using the bathroom or throwing up, and before contact with someone else. Most stomach bugs will go away on their own in one to three days. Antibiotics don’t help with most stomach bugs. Drink plenty of fluids if you can, to keep you from getting dehydrated. The very young and old, or those in poor health, are more likely to need medical attention.

Call your doctor’s office

  • Vomiting lasts more than two days for adults, more than 24 hours for children under age two, or more than 12 hours for children under the age of one.
  • Have a fever higher than 102.2 degrees.
  • Can’t keep fluids down, and have decreased urine, dry mouth, or dizziness.

Go to the emergency room

  • Experience confusion.
  • Are vomiting bright red blood, or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Experience chest pain or difficulty breathing.
  • Have belly pain that doesn’t go away, and keeps you from being able to get around.

Contact the Southern Ute Health Center at 970-563-4581 if you have any questions concerning this article.

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