Stomach Flu Cramps: Is There Anything You Can Do For Norovirus Symptoms?

Taking ginger for stomach spasms? You can find the fresh root in the produce section of the grocery store: This is what ginger root looks like. Image by Fastily

Taking ginger for stomach spasms? You can find the fresh root in the produce section of the grocery store: This is what ginger root looks like. Image by Fastily

They’re calling it a SuperBug.

This year’s stomach flu, also known as viral gastroenteritis, is having a wide impact this year, affecting most families – even Queen Elizabeth caught the norovirus in early March.

Sometimes, the stomach cramps and pain are the worst part about the stomach flu.

Is there anything you can do to ease this symptom of the norovirus that’s hitting so hard this year?

Stomach Flu Symptoms: Cramps and Nausea

Stomach flu causes inflammation of the lining of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Viral gastroenteritis is highly contagious and affects millions of people around the world every year with vomiting, watery diarrhea, headache, fever, chills, and abdominal pain and cramping. This year’s strain is from Australia, and is a new strain, so no one has immunity built up – this is why so many people are getting so very sick.

When a virus infects our bodies, our immune system works to get rid of the virus. In the case of the stomach flu, the body works to get rid of the virus via diarrhea and/or vomiting. When the stomach, small intestine, and/or the large intestine become inflamed, this causes the pain we feel in our abdomens when we are sick. Stomach cramps can be painful; everything from a mild ache to a sharp, stabbing pain.

Note: When you have the stomach flu, you generally feel pain in more than half of your stomach. If your pain is only in one part of the abdomen (localized pain) it could be a sign of problem with another organ such as your gallbladder or appendix.

Stomach Cramps: How Long Will They Last?

So how long will you feel bad with the stomach flu and cramps? According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, symptoms appear within 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus and you can expect to feel better within one to three days. While waiting it out, is there anything you can do to help ease the cramps? Ginger and peppermint are two herbs that might be able to help.

  • Ginger: In China, the people have used ginger to treat diarrhea and nausea for over 2,000 years. Ginger comes in different forms, from the actual ginger root to capsules, oils, and food and drinks that contain ginger. Researchers have studied the use of ginger, finding that it can help with nausea and vomiting that come with everything from pregnancy to chemotherapy. For those with the stomach flu, science affirmed in 2005 that ginger calms stomach cramps and spasms.
Peppermint helps soothe the muscles of the stomach. Photo by: Gürkan Sengün

Peppermint helps soothe the muscles of the stomach, relieving stomach cramps. Photo by: Gürkan Sengün

  • Peppermint: You can use peppermint to provide a numbing and calming effect. Peppermint comes in a variety of forms such as teas, dried or fresh leaves from the plant, and capsules. Research has found that peppermint can reduce gastric spasms as well. 

Stomach Flu Recovery

The stomach flu has hit hard this year; norovirus symptoms are causing some real problems for people, since we haven’t acquired immunity to this new strain of ‘GII.4 Sydney’ viral gastroenteritis, but the good news is that you will feel better in a few days. Ginger and peppermint can help ease the stomach pains and nausea, but consult with your doctor before taking any herbal supplement, as some can interfere with your current medications or illnesses/diseases – and ask your pediatrician before using home remedies on your kids.

Once you start feeling better, it’s best not to eat anything until you have stopped vomiting for six hours, according to Medline Plus. When you do begin eating again, start with the classic B.R.A.T. diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are bland and easy to digest, and unlikely to start you on another round of painful stomach cramps.


Medline Plus. Abdominal Pain. (2011). Accessed March 19, 2013.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Viral Gastroenteritis. (2012). Accessed March 19, 2013.

University of Maryland Medical Center. Ginger. (2010). Accessed March 19, 2013.

University of Maryland Medical Center. Peppermint. (2011). Accessed March 19, 2013.

Ghayur MN, Gilani AH. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of ginger in gastrointestinal disorders. (2005). Digestive Disease and Sciences. Accessed March 19, 2013.

Kingham JG. Peppermint oil and colon spasm. (1995) Lancet. Accessed March 19, 2013.


*This article is for informational purposes only, and is no substitute for the one-on-one medical advice of your doctor. Please seek medical care if you’re in need of treatment.*

© Copyright 2013 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
Decoded Everything is a non-profit corporation, dependent on donations from readers like you. Donate now! Your support keeps the great information coming!


  1. Cindy says

    I came down with this super bug last Wednesday March 18, did not throw up, wanted too, but had pure liquid water diarrhea for about 12 hours, finally took some iodium, it helped but my stomach was so weak, gargle and groans for two solid days, third day felt better, even went to work, but probably should not have, the next day I was exhausted and slept for over 12 hours, today I am better but still have swollen intestines, hurts like crazy to even pass gas. I feel like I need a normal bowel movement, but hurt to bad. If tomorrow does not produce some normal I will resort to over the counter meds.

  2. Sarri says

    This virus is awful! I got it a year ago around this time. Now I have it again. The first time I was sick for about a week
    I couldn’t eat or drink anything. Eventually I was able to take small sips of Gatorade. This time around hasn’t been as bad as last time. It still sucks tho. At least I’m able to keep some pedialite down. Also, I’ve noticed the stomach cramps are worse this time, but I’m not violently throwing up like I was last time. It seems the best remedy for this is plenty or rest, pedialite (what you can handle), and let the god awful virus run its course. Hope everybody makes a swiftly recovery!!

  3. Jonana says

    Hi, I just got the thick end of the stick with this stomach flu-fever, nausea, vomitting,loose stools, you name it. Took vomitting and loose stools medication from previous visits including oral electrolytes and the tummy rejected it all. Lasted almost 5 hrs and my kindly bf suggested waiting for my dad’s lift to the doc.
    Doc said the body’s in Defence mode so ‘Kung fu’ed the meds out of my system, also with the dehydration of fluids through vomiting n loose stools, it caused low blood pressure(the giddiness and lack of strength).
    He ended up giving me a jab to stop the vomiting (it did work–if it didn’t, I’d have to enter the hospital to get a drip) this helped me consume fluids like water.
    It’s Day 4 for me but still having stomach cramps after taking porridge once a day with fruit juice and water for rest of the meals.
    Hope my sharing helps and sending love to all of you going through this tough time.
    Hang in there!!:-)

    • Sylvia says

      Hi Jo,
      I also am on day four and I also still have cramping when eating some solid foods. The foods that have caused the least problem for me are coconut water, bananas, roasted fennel root and potatoes. The fennel really helped with the excess gas. I hope that we are both fantastic soon!

      • Angelica says

        Hi Sylvia,
        You are so smart to eat light. I am on week 10 with most symptoms gone but just experiencing some occasional lightheadedness and fatigue though it has much improved from what it was. I found that I felt worse when I would eat heavy foods/meals and when I would eat something acidic like spaghetti sauce. I hope you are not sick as long as I was and you are better very very soon. If you need to compare your symptoms to others, check out this link

        There are quite a few posts under this article that are more recent than the ones below. I found it helpful to talk to others who were going through the same thing. Esp. since most of us had a lengthy illness and experienced alot of the same symptoms. Take good care of yourself. All the best.

  4. Angelica says

    Hi has anyone been sick for more than a few weeks with this? I am on week 7 now and I am miserable. Nausea every day especially the first half of the day. Slight dizziness off and on which is an improvement because I was quite dizzy the first few weeks. Diarrhea every single day accept today. Tired and can’t fall asleep at night. I”m so tired and the anti nausea pills are not helping. Been to the doctor several times, plus a gastroenterologist. I am going to see a hematologist on friday and ask for norovirus testing. I can’t wait til this is over. If anyone comes on her to post can you please state how long you have been sick and what your symptoms are and if you get better can you repost how long it took to get better? THANK YOU! Angelica

  5. susan says

    Just started last night with stomach flu….its horrid..abdominal pains like being in labour.. Diarrhea… Vomiting…Hope you are all getting better soon..Will go try the ginger…
    Thanks for all the comments as wonder what it was.

  6. Karen says

    Well, I spoke too soon. Started throwing up and it continued all through the night. This morning it started coming out the other end. Stomach cramps are pretty much gone. Feeling a little hungry but afraid to eat. Will stick to the Brat diet for a few days. I am hoping that the worst is over. I never want to feel this way again.

  7. Karen says

    This is the third time I’ve had these stomach cramps in the past week and a half. Seems to come , improve, then come back. I have never hurt like this before and am experiencing chills. No vomiting or diarrhea…would welcome either if it would help.

  8. Kyle says

    I’ve got this virus once befor it lasted about 3 days and now 5 days later I have it again I’ve threw up twice my advice is when you puke let it all out because I held some of it in and I had o puke again just like till u can’t puke no more and the next day you should feel good

  9. Diane says

    I got my first cramps on Tue 6th Jan. By midnight I was vomiting. Vomited , awful cramps and slept for over 24 hours. Now into 3rd day flat on my back. Still getting awful cramps and can only sip water. Just want to get better. This is hell.

  10. Dee says

    8 out of 10 in my family have this. My son in law has had it 7 days so far, husband is going on 6 days. Age doesnt seem to matter . My entire family is well over the few days they claim it should last. Different households with no common contact . It seems to be going around everywhere. How much longer is this expected to last?

  11. M Kinney says

    My 2 yr old had it for 24 hours. And I was the lucky one to get it too. On Christmas night I could not sleep at all due to the cramping and diahrrea .
    Luckily I woke up feeling a lil bit better today. I’m not feeling as weak and I feel a bit more energized. I want this to go away already. I’m still experiencing nausea :(

  12. Joy says

    This beyond sucks! It’s been 2 hours since last vomit but the cramps are horrible! Sent father to the store for ginger root and pedialyte. I’m continuing to breastfeed my 9 month old and she hasn’t had it as bad, thank God. I feel so dehydrated, I’m afraid to drink anything though.

  13. Ana says

    I have started to feel the abdominal cramps and diarrhoea since 30 November and I´m still feeling nauseated and with the abdominal cramps. I´m so tired of the situation (it´s 7 December) and some websites say that we must wait to the symptoms stop to left home until 48 hours and other say 72 hours. I really don´t know what to do!

  14. Dan MacMillan says

    I’ve had it for about 24 hours now and it is spreading through my middle school, im in the 7th grade and out of 375 7th graders in the school, about 250 of us have the virus #namsbola

  15. linda says

    I began getting sick on Nov 29. I had stomach cramps , ,diahera, and hot and cold flashes but never threw up.hope I feel better soon

  16. says

    I came down with this Flu the 27 November 2014. It is the 30th of November and I am still sick. I am a Nurse . I never get stomach flu. I spent 11 years in Asia. I kept hydrated with ginger tea. I feel Ike I can eat and begin the cycle again. Nausea ans terrible stomach cramps. I am so weak it frightens me. I fear this goes on for a long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *