While there is no scientific evidence to suggest that Sprite may be good to drink with stomach flu, some people find it may help with nausea. However, it can also make symptoms like diarrhea worse.

Stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, can cause bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, upsetting the balance of glucose and essential minerals in the body. This can lead to dehydration and, in extreme cases, severe dehydration, which may require hospitalization and treatment with IV fluids.

Sometimes, water alone is insufficient to replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea. People may use caffeine-free or high electrolyte drinks to supplement the loss of glucose and hydration.

This article discusses why drinks like Sprite may or may not be beneficial for people with stomach flu. It also lists some alternative drinks that may be helpful.

Close-up of the top of a Sprite canShare on Pinterest
Image By Marc Gutierrez/Getty Images

Sprite may not be a good choice for replacing lost fluids when experiencing stomach flu. While some people may find that Sprite can help settle a nauseous stomach, the sugar content in the drink can worsen some symptoms of stomach flu, such as diarrhea.

However, Sprite may be an option if other liquids are unpalatable. When experiencing stomach flu, people often find it difficult to keep down food and fluids. Additionally, they may be unable to drink certain fluids such as rehydration solutions or broth.

Because Sprite has a mild, sweet flavor, it may be more appealing than other drinks, especially for children.

A 2016 study involving 647 children found that children were less likely to experience severe dehydration when offered apple juice compared with oral rehydration solutions.

The researchers hypothesize that this may be because children are more likely to reject an unfamiliar beverage they perceive as unpalatable.

If people choose to drink Sprite to help relieve nausea, they may wish to consider only drinking small amounts or diluting it before consuming.

There are five reasons why people may believe soda can be helpful for gastroenteritis:

  • Hydration: Sodas such as Sprite can replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea. To avoid consuming too much sugar, people can dilute Sprite with water.
  • Mild flavor: Intense flavors can worsen nausea. Sprite has a mild, sweet flavor that is palatable to most people.
  • Glucose replacement: Dehydration in children can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Sprite can replace lost glucose, which may help reduce nausea and prevent other undesirable symptoms resulting from low blood sugar. However, other options, such as sports drinks or fruit juices may be better options, and less likely to worsen other symptoms, like diarrhea.
  • Carbonation: There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that carbonated drinks can be soothing for some people experiencing nausea. However, carbonation can make nausea worse for others.
  • Sodium replacement: Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to a loss of electrolytes such as chloride, potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate. While Sprite does not contain chloride or bicarbonate, and only a negligible amount of potassium, it does have more sodium than regular water. Electrolyte drinks, such as Pedialyte, may be better options to replace lost electrolytes, however.

While some people find it helpful to drink Sprite when they have stomach flu, other beverages may be equally or more effective, such as:

  • Electrolyte replacement powders and solutions: Adding an electrolyte replacement powder to filtered water can help replace essential minerals. Electrolyte solutions specifically for children, such as Pedialyte, NaturaLyte, Infalyte, and Ceralyte, are also an option.
  • Caffeine-free sports drinks: Drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade contain electrolytes and glucose. However, high sugar beverages can worsen diarrhea.
  • Coconut water: People sometimes refer to coconut water as “nature’s Gatorade” because it contains high levels of sodium, potassium, and other rehydrating minerals and vitamins. It is also sweet but naturally low in sugar.
  • Ginger ale: Ginger ale has the same potential benefits as Sprite, but it may also relieve nausea because it contains ginger. However, most commercial ginger ales contain very little real ginger. People can check ingredient labels to find out how much ginger a product contains.
  • Stock or broth: Savory stocks and broths such as vegetable stock or bone broth contain mostly water but are also rich in essential minerals and vitamins. They may be beneficial for people who have been unable to eat or keep food down. However, they may be less appealing to children than sweet beverages.
  • Ice chips or popsicles: If a person is having difficulty keeping down food or drink, sucking on ice chips or a sweet popsicle can help slowly replenish fluids.
  • Chamomile tea: Chamomile tea can be helpful for stomach flu because of its anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant properties.

There are some beverages people may want to avoid when they have stomach flu. These include:

  • Alcohol: Alcohol acts as a diuretic and is dehydrating. It can also irritate the stomach lining, making vomiting and diarrhea worse.
  • Caffeinated drinks: People should avoid beverages containing caffeine, such as Coca-Cola or coffee, when they have stomach flu. While caffeine is not as dehydrating as experts previously believed, it can stimulate intestinal contractions, potentially worsening diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Undiluted fruit juices: Fruit juices are acidic, high in sugar, and low in sodium. Alone, they are a poor option for reversing dehydration. Too much sugar can worsen diarrhea, and the acid in fruit juice can irritate the stomach.
  • Milk: Dairy can worsen diarrhea, even for people who do not have lactose intolerance. However, fermented dairy drinks, such as yogurt drinks and kefir, may be easier on the gut and help replenish good gut bacteria.

In some cases, severe dehydration may require hospitalization and IV treatment to replace lost fluids. Symptoms of severe dehydration may include:

  • extreme thirst
  • dry skin and mouth
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • less frequent urination and sweating
  • dark-colored urine

A person should seek medical help right away if they have the stomach flu and experience the following:

  • diarrhea that lasts more than 2 days
  • high fever
  • an inability to keep food or fluids down
  • more than five loose stools in a day
  • severe abdominal or rectal pain
  • bloody or tarry stools

When it might not be stomach flu

Stomach flu symptoms typically last 24–72 hours and do not require treatment. If symptoms persist for more than 72 hours, a person should seek help from a medical professional.

While some people may feel that Sprite can help with nausea, there is no scientific evidence to state that it is a good option for people with stomach flu. The sugar in Sprite can make certain symptoms, like diarrhea, worse for some.

If Sprite is the only option available or the only beverage someone can keep down, it may be an option for rehydrating. For some people, it may help to dilute Sprite with filtered water.

If possible, water, low sugar sports drinks, electrolyte drinks, or diluted juice may be better options to help rehydrate during stomach flu.