It is possible to have a stomach virus without vomiting or diarrhea. This can happen if a person contracts the virus but does not develop symptoms or only has mild symptoms.

Several viruses can cause a stomach bug or stomach flu, such as:

Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are potential symptoms of these viral illnesses, but not everyone gets all of them.

Read on to learn more about having a stomach virus without vomiting or diarrhea.

The torso of a naked person hugging their chest. A green squiggle on the stomach represents a stomach virus.Share on Pinterest
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Yes, it is possible to have a stomach virus without vomiting or diarrhea. People can sometimes have symptoms that may be less obvious, such as abdominal discomfort, nausea, or upset digestion.

People can also have a stomach virus with no symptoms at all.

Many stomach viruses can cause mild symptoms, including:

  • Rotavirus: This is a common stomach virus that typically affects children. In healthy adults, rotavirus usually causes mild symptoms, but this can happen in other age groups too. A 2010 study found that 11% of cases in children were asymptomatic, or had no symptoms.
  • Astrovirus: This virus is also common in children but does not always cause diarrhea. A 2004 study found that 4.7% of children with astrovirus had diarrhea, while 2.6% with the virus had no diarrhea. Some children also had no symptoms at all.
  • Adenovirus: This group of viruses can affect people of any age and may cause mild to severe symptoms.
  • Norovirus: This is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach bug. Norovirus can cause serious illness in people with weakened immune systems, but for most healthy people, the illness gets better on its own without treatment. People can also have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. A 2018 analysis of data from 36 countries found that the global rate of asymptomatic norovirus was 7%.

The symptoms of a stomach virus can include:

  • abdominal pain or cramps
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Some people may also experience:

  • headache
  • body aches
  • fever

How long stomach viruses last depends on the type of virus and the person’s overall health and age.

For example, in healthy people:

  • norovirus typically lasts 1–3 days
  • astrovirus typically lasts 1–4 days
  • rotavirus typically lasts 3–8 days
  • adenovirus can last 1–2 weeks

Even after a person recovers from a stomach virus, they can still transmit it to others for up to 2 weeks. This is why it is important to take preventive steps to stop transmission.

People should follow preventive measures even if they have no symptoms at all, as it could protect a vulnerable person from getting sick.

Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds:

  • after using the bathroom
  • after changing diapers
  • after caring for a sick person, such as when giving medicine
  • before and after preparing food

If water and soap are not available, people can use hand sanitizer, but hand sanitizer does not work well against norovirus.

In addition to handwashing, people should:

  • wash fruits and vegetables before eating them
  • cook food to a safe temperature
  • regularly clean and sanitize kitchen equipment and frequently touched surfaces, such as light switches
  • wash laundry in hot water while people in the home are sick

Throw away any food that could be contaminated with the virus. Do not prepare food or care for other people for at least 2 days after symptoms stop.

The symptoms of a mild stomach bug are similar to those of many other conditions, including:

Food poisoning

Food poisoning occurs when a person consumes food or drink that contains bacteria, chemicals, or parasites. The symptoms can be similar to a stomach virus and vary from person to person.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a fairly common, long-term digestive condition. It can cause bloating, abdominal pain or discomfort, and constipation or diarrhea.

In some people, IBS develops suddenly after having gastroenteritis. This is known as post-infectious IBS. Some people may mistake this for ongoing, mild viral symptoms.


Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix, which is a small pouch in the intestines. In the early stages, the symptoms of appendicitis may be similar to those of a mild stomach bug with no vomiting or diarrhea. A person may have:

  • discomfort or pain
  • nausea
  • fever

However, appendicitis worsens over time if a person does not get treatment. These symptoms can include severe pain and vomiting.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTIs that affect the kidneys can cause symptoms that are similar to a stomach virus, such as:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever or chills
  • abdominal pain

If the infection started in the lower urinary tract, people may also experience a frequent urge to urinate or burning when urinating.

Kidney infections can cause severe pain. They can become serious, so people with these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

People who may have a stomach virus but are not experiencing vomiting or diarrhea may get better on their own without treatment. It is still advisable to stay hydrated during this time.

However, a person should talk with a doctor if they develop any of the following symptoms:

  • severe pain
  • high fever
  • diarrhea lasting more than 1 day in children or 2 days in adults
  • inability to keep fluids down
  • unusual change in behavior or energy
  • blood in the vomit, which may look like coffee grounds
  • blood or pus in the stool, which may look black or tarry

If a person does develop vomiting or diarrhea, they could become dehydrated if they cannot get enough fluids or electrolytes. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. The signs and symptoms include:

  • extreme thirst
  • dry mouth
  • decrease in urination
  • dark urine
  • dry skin
  • tiredness
  • lack of tears when crying
  • sunken eyes or cheeks

In babies, there may also be a dip in the soft spot on top of the head.

For milder but persistent symptoms that do not go away, consult a doctor for advice. A person may have another medical condition that needs treatment.

It is possible to have a stomach virus without vomiting and diarrhea. It is also possible to have no symptoms at all. However, even if a person is not unwell, they should still follow precautions to prevent the transmission of viruses, as they could have an asymptomatic infection.

Stomach viruses usually get better on their own without treatment. If symptoms persist or worsen, it is important to seek medical advice to rule out other possible conditions.