Upset stomach or abdominal pain is most often due to inflammation of the stomach lining and intestines caused by viruses. Typically, an upset stomach can be treated at home. If symptoms are extreme or prolonged, medical care is needed.
- Cramping abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Diarrhea, loose or liquid stools, increased number of stools
- Headache or body aches
- Chills, with or without fevers
When to contact a clinician
Persistent or severe abdominal pain, especially if unrelieved by vomiting or passing a bowel movement
Fever greater than 101 degrees F, not relieved by acetaminophen, or any fever that lasts more than three days
Vomiting or diarrhea without any improvement for more 24 hours
Blood in vomit or stools
No urination for more than 8 hours, or painful urination
Treatment & Prevention
Most stomach aches can be treated at home. During the first 24 to 36 hours, the best treatment is a diet of clear liquids in frequent, small amounts. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine a pale yellow or clear color. If you vomit, start with sips of water or sucking on ice chips. If these are well tolerated, try other fluids:
- Sports drinks
- Clear, non-caffeinated sodas such as 7-Up, Sprite or ginger ale
- Diluted juices such as apple, grape, cherry or cranberry (avoid citrus juices)
- Clear soup broth or bouillon
- Decaffeinated tea
If fluids are well tolerated, slowly add bland solid foods, but continue to focus on fluid intake at the same time.
- White toast with only honey or jelly
- Soda crackers
- Plain white rice
FOODS TO AVOID: non-cultured dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream,) spicy, greasy or fatty foods, whole grains, raw vegetables, alcohol, caffeine.
It may take several days to one week to regain your appetite, energy level, and for bowels to be normal again.
- Wash hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom and before and after eating or handling food.
- Do not share eating or drinking utensils with others.
- Avoid milk, cheese or egg-based foods that have not been refrigerated.
- Handle uncooked meat or poultry carefully — wash hands, utensils and work surfaces well after preparing, especially before handling other foods
- When travelling in foreign countries, drink only bottled beverages and only eat fruits and vegetables that can be peeled or thoroughly cooked. Avoid sidewalk food stands.