That stomach virus that’s going around? What you need to know about it

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CLEVELAND - If it seems like this year's version of the stomach flu is particularly vicious, it is. And there's a lot more to it than you probably first thought.

Although the Cuyahoga County Board of Health doesn't track individual cases of the stomach bug  (which is NOT the same thing as the respiratory flu), data shows that the number of emergency room visits for vomiting and diarrhea is at its highest point for the tracking year so far. The tracking year runs from October until April, and we are just now into March.

There are some other things about this stomach virus that may surprise you, according to Kevin Brennan, communications specialist and Richard Stacklin, data analyst for the Cuyahoga County Board of Health:

  • Just because you have this virus once, you are not immune to getting it again.
  • If you do get it, you should not prepare foods for anyone else, and avoid close contact with others.
  • Avoiding close contact means staying out of work for 48-72 hours after your symptoms go away.
  • Despite what you might think, it is not a good idea to take over-the-counter medicines meant to stop diarrhea. The body has a natural response to flush its systems when the virus invades, and taking drugs such as Immodium could actually keep the virus in your body longer.
  • Dehydration is a real concern and can have serious side effects. If you can't keep down fluids, try Pedialyte or Gatorade. And if those won't stay down, you should talk to your healthcare provider about going to the hospital for intravenous fluids. Waiting too long could actually cause damage to your organs, especially the kidneys and live.
  • Hygiene is key, since the virus can remain in your body's waste for up to two weeks. Wash those hands!

And as always, if you have any doubts or concerns about an illness, you should always reach out to your healthcare provider.