Preventing the Stomach Bug from Hitting Your Home   
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Preventing the Stomach Bug from Hitting Your Home

Young girl with glasses on, clutching her stomach in pain from the stomach bug, laying on a pink couch.
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Betsy Varghese, M.D.

Updated: 3/7/2023

All of a sudden, it hits you: stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. The stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, can spread through homes and communities like wildfire.

“People think that the end of winter means the end of ‘sick season,’ but that is not true,” says Betsy Varghese, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group and Hackensack University Medical Center. “You can still suffer from colds, the flu and the dreaded stomach bug. Plus, allergy sufferers will have spring allergens to deal with as well.”

While other ailments can put a damper on things, the stomach bug is considered the worst of the worst.

“It can completely incapacitate people and cause horrible symptoms. In young children and senior citizens, it can also be deadly. The stomach bug spreads very easily and you may not experience symptoms but still be spreading it,” Dr. Varghese adds.

Getting ahead of spring cleaning is a great way to help prevent the stomach bug from hitting your home. Dr. Varghese shares a few tips to prevent your household from going through an unpleasant experience that can quickly affect everyone.

1. Wash, wash, wash.

Hand-washing is always important—especially if you want to prevent the spread of a highly contagious stomach bug. Not only should you wash when you prepare food, you should also wash after household chores, and especially after changing a child’s diaper or going to the bathroom.

2. Use your dishwasher.

Hand-washing is vital, but don’t hand-wash your dishes. Use the dishwasher, as it offers hotter water that can kill germs. Do this especially if you’ve been in contact with anyone who has been ill.

3. Keep the house clean—everywhere.

Spring cleaning tends to focus on areas you may only do once a year, but it’s a great time to do areas that are often used.

  • Be sure to wash down surfaces throughout the home including any toys or commonly used items such as phones, light switches, door knobs and remote controls.
  • Also, wash used clothing and bedding in hot water especially if it has been in contact with an infected person, because the bug can stay on linens and be transmitted that way.

4. Use bleach.

If you’re dealing with a stomach bug, it may require bleach to completely kill the virus. Wipe down commonly used areas with a mixture of bleach and water.

5. Consider a rotavirus vaccine.

Did you know there’s a vaccine for rotavirus, which is one virus that causes the stomach bug? It can protect against gastroenteritis caused by the rotavirus, which is common in babies and young children. Ask your pediatrician about this vaccine.

6. If sick, head to the doctor for testing.

Know what you have, if you get hit with it. If anyone is sick, head to the doctor immediately. He or she can administer a rapid stool test to rule out rotavirus or norovirus, which are viruses that causes gastroenteritis and can be quite serious.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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