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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?
3 Easy Tips for Keeping 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 spewage. 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.
- 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 Softy’s Sanitizing Wipes in my purse for quick and easy hand washing when soap and water isn’t handy. Softy is not an antibacterial wipe; it is an antimicrobial wipe which means that it kills microorganisms or at least inhibits their growth. The active ingredient in Softy is Benzalkonium chloride. Research hasn’t been able to prove that Benzalkonium chloride actually kills the Norovirus (the little bugger of a virus will not grow in a petri dish so scientists haven’t been able to recreate the same environment as a human body) but what we do know is that it does adequately kill microorganisms and that is good enough for this mom. Plus, the wipes are soft, pliable and the smell is not overwhelming.
- Always have grape juice on hand. 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 two 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.
- 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)
- 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!!!!!!
Honorable Mentions – Not completely necessary but this is part of what I do and it’s worked for me.
- 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.
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 Softy Sanitizing Wipes or regularly cleaning the surfaces in your home you are going to get sick. The key to prevention is being prepared; always have Softy wipes (for clean hands when soap and water are not available), grape juice (prevent the rest of your family from getting the stomach flu) and sanitizing wipes like Softy for everyday cleaning and Clorox Healthcare Hydrogen Peroxide for the serious disinfecting needs.