Nutrition Articles

Self-Care Tips for Sick Days

Help Your Body Recover from Illness

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Care for yourself by:
  • Keeping yourself as comfortable as possible.
  • Preventing dehydration by drinking 8 to 12 cups of liquids.
  • Not eating or drinking for a few hours or until your stomach has settled.
  • Avoiding dairy products, fatty and greasy foods, fried foods, and highly-seasoned food for a few days.
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine products until you have returned to normal.
When choosing foods and liquids: Try ice chips or small sips of "Stage 1" (see chart below) liquids for no more than 24 hours. Then, slowly add "Stage 2" foods, such as low-fiber carbohydrate sources and low-fat protein foods as tolerated. If the vomiting returns, go back to "Stage1" beverages and foods until you are able to advance.
 
Seek medical attention if:
  • You are unable to drink anything for 24 hours
  • Vomiting persists beyond two or three days
  • If you become dehydrated (experiencing excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness or light-headedness).
  • You vomit blood.
  • You have a chronic medical condition, especially one that is affected by changes in your food intake (such as diabetes).

If your symptoms include diarrhea (loose or watery stools) and abdominal cramping, you may have a viral infection, which typically clears on its own without antibiotics. Nausea and vomiting may precede diarrhea along with other flu-like symptoms such as a low-grade fever, achy or cramping muscles and headache. Diarrhea can also be caused by bacteria or parasites, medications, artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and mannitol, and other underlying medical problems.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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