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Thursday, March 05, 2009

It's Flu Season. Stomach Flu Season.

I hope you all understand that the term "stomach flu" is a horrible misnomer. Both parts are equally wrong. It's not the flu and your stomach has little to do with it.

The disease is properly called gastroenteritis. The influenza virus does not cause it, although a whole host of other virus types can.

So why "stomach flu"? Vomiting is often a symptom, along with diarrhea, so the name is catchy and seemingly descriptive.

The affected person may also have headache, fever, and abdominal cramps ("stomach ache"). In general, the symptoms begin 1 to 2 days following infection with a virus that causes gastroenteritis and may last for 1 to 10 days, depending on which virus causes the illness; however, most episodes last from 1-3 days.

Anything that affects the intestines is a concern for those of us with lactose intolerance, and for many who aren't. Remember that few people manufacture no lactase at all. Most of us just don't make enough at the best of times, although most of us normally can have some dairy products without symptoms. Reduce lactase production and trouble can follow. Same is true for those who ordinary have no problems at all with dairy. A temporary (also called secondary) lactose intolerance can result.

That's what brought to my attention this Daily News article by Rosemary Black. She noted that "stomach flu" cases appear to be increasing this year and devoted an article to what to do and not do. She included this pertinent point:
The myth: Cheese is binding and a good food to eat after the stomach flu.

The reality: You may want to avoid cheese and ice cream. "Whenever you have an intestinal inflammation, the enzymes that break down the lactose aren't functioning all that well," [Dr. Christina Tennyson, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University Medical Center] explains. "So stay away from dairy products for a couple of days."

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1 comment:

MelleMello said...

Mr. Carper,

Thank you for this info. It really shed some light over what happened to me just recently. And I would also like to thank you for this very informative blog, it is really useful and has been my source for all things related to lactose intolerance. You've certainly helped me cope with my condition.

Good job and well done for your work sir.