woman holding her stomach

Can Zofran Help With Stomach Flu?

Stomach flu (also known as viral gastroenteritis) is an intestinal infection that causes nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, and watery diarrhea. It can also sometimes cause fever. You can get stomach flu by coming into contact with an infected person, eating contaminated food, or drinking contaminated water.

Viral gastroenteritis can cause severe illness, especially in infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems, so effective treatment is key.

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Understanding Zofran

First, we will go over what Zofran is, how it works, and its uses.

Zofran (also known by the generic name ondansetron) is a prescription medication that prevents and treats nausea and vomiting. It is a member of the antiemetic class of medications.

This medication works by blocking serotonin, a natural substance in your body that causes vomiting.

Zofran is most commonly used on its own or in combination with other medications to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and surgery. It can also be used to treat stomach flu in adults, children, and babies aged six months and older.

Stomach Flu Symptoms

Continue reading to learn about common symptoms and severity levels of stomach flu.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms of stomach flu include:

  • Headaches
  • Low-grade fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea

Severity Levels

Depending on the cause of viral gastroenteritis infection, you can start to have symptoms one to three days after being exposed to the virus. Stomach flu can cause mild to severe symptoms that can last for one to 14 days.

Zofran vs. Stomach Flu

Next, we will answer the question, “Can Zofran treat stomach flu?” and analyze the benefits of using this medication, as well as its limitations and considerations.

Although Zofran is not approved to treat stomach flu, studies have shown that it can be used off-label to help treat it.1 This medication can be especially effective in treating stomach flu in children, but it can also benefit adults with this condition.

Benefits of using Zofran include affordability and reduced symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

Limitations and Considerations

Considerations for Zofran you should be aware of before taking it include:

  • Do not cut or crush the oral tablets.
  • Place Zofran oral tablets on your tongue and allow them to dissolve before you swallow.
  • Store Zofran oral tablets in a dark, dry place that has a temperature between 36 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Take Zofran at the time(s) recommended by your doctor.
  • When removing Zolfran oral tablets from the package, peel the foil back instead of pushing the tablet through the foil to avoid breaking the tablet.
    Zofran can be taken with or without food.

Dosage and Administration

There are different dosages and administration methods for Zofran. Continue reading to learn the proper dosage for adults and children, as well as administration guidelines.

The proper dosage for adults taking Zofran to treat stomach flu is typically one or two 4-milligram (mg) tablets every six hours.

The appropriate dosage of oral Zofran for children varies based on the child’s age and/or weight, level of illness, and response to other treatments.

Zofran can be administered intravenously or orally. There are four forms of oral Zolfran:

  • Disintegrating tablet
  • Film
  • Solution
  • Tablet

Safety and Side Effects

Common side effects of Zofran can include:

  • Chills
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness

Potential Risks

Potential risks associated with taking Zofran include allergic reactions and negative interactions with other medications. We will go into more detail about specific drug interactions later in this article.

Who Should Avoid Zofran

You should not take Zofran if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • An allergic or unusual reaction to dyes, foods, granisetron, ondansetron, preservatives, or other medications
  • Breastfeeding
  • Heart disease
  • History of irregular heartbeat
  • Liver disease
  • Low levels of magnesium and potassium in your blood
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant

Precautions and Interactions

Next, we will take a look at drug interactions, precautions for pregnant women, and precautions for older adults related to taking Zofran.

Zofran can negatively interact with many drugs.

Taking Zofran with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), or other medications that affect serotonin can increase your risk of having serotonin levels that are too high, which can cause you to develop serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin syndrome can cause mild or severe symptoms. Symptoms of mild serotonin syndrome can include increased heart rate, sweating, and tremors. Severe symptoms of serotonin syndrome include agitation, confusion, and high fever. Severe serotonin syndrome can be life-threatening, so you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any symptoms of severe serotonin syndrome.

Examples of SSRIs are fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). Examples of SNRIs include desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and venlafaxine (Effexor). Some other medications that affect serotonin include antibiotics such as linezolid (Zyvox), some dietary supplements such as St. John’s wort, and tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline.

You also should not take Zofran with antibiotics that prolong the QT interval, which is the time when your heart muscle relaxes between beats, because Zofran can also prolong the QT interval in rare cases. Having a long QT interval can cause heart rhythm problems that can be life-threatening. Go to the emergency room if you experience blurred vision, dizziness, or sudden fainting. Antibiotics that prolong the QT interval include fluoroquinolones like levofloxacin or moxifloxacin (Avelox) and macrolides like azithromycin (Zithromax) or erythromycin.

Heart rhythm medications like amiodarone (Pacerone), quinidine, and sotalol (Betapace) can also prolong your heart’s QT interval and should not be taken with Zofran.

If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, it is important to know how Zofran may affect you and your unborn baby. Zofran has been found to be unlikely to increase the risk of birth defects, miscarriage, or other pregnancy complications. There is also no evidence that this medication passes into breast milk. It does not cause behavioral or learning difficulties for children ages seven days to 2 months old and one-and-a-half years to five-and-a-half years old whose mothers took Zofran during pregnancy.

This medication is sometimes prescribed to treat morning sickness. Talk to your doctor to determine if you should start or continue using Zofran while you are pregnant.

Precautions for Older Adults

Adults 65 and older can be given the same dosage of Zofran as younger adults, but older adults do not process Zofran as quickly as younger adults do, which puts them at a higher risk for side effects. Regular monitoring and testing for side effects can help ensure safe use of Zofran in elderly patients. It is also important to note that older Zofran users are more likely to experience heart rhythm issues as a result of taking Zofran.

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Zofran for Stomach Flu Prevention

In this section, we will discuss prophylactic use and effectiveness as a preventative measure.

Prophylactic Use

In addition to treating current nausea and vomiting symptoms, Zofran has also been found to be effective in prophylactic use. ‘Prophylactic use’ means it can be used to prevent symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.

Effectiveness as a Preventative Measure

Zoran can prevent nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery when taken before these procedures are done. It may also prevent nausea and vomiting caused by stomach flu.


The stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis) is caused by a viral infection that affects the digestive tract. You can get sick with stomach flu by touching a person who is infected or by ingesting contaminated food or water. Symptoms can include nausea and vomiting. Symptoms can start one to three days after infection and last anywhere from a single day to two weeks. Stomach flu can be mild or severe and may be life-threatening for certain groups, such as infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Zofran is a prescription medication that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Although it is not FDA-approved to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting due to stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis), doctors can prescribe Zofran for this reason (this is called an off-label prescription). This medication may also be prescribed to ease nausea and vomiting caused by morning sickness during pregnancy.

Zofran works by blocking serotonin, a chemical in your brain that causes vomiting.
This medication is available to take by mouth in several tablet forms or as a liquid, as well as to be administered through an IV (intravenous delivery).

Like most medications, Zofran can cause side effects, but most side effects are mild and will go away on their own. If you experience persistent, serious, or life-threatening side effects, go to the nearest emergency room.

You should talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Zofran while also taking medications that raise serotonin levels or prolong your heart’s QT interval, as these types of drugs can have potentially life-threatening interactions with each other. Elderly people have a higher chance of heart rhythm issues while taking Zofran.

Taking Zofran for an upset stomach can make dealing with stomach flu more bearable and help you feel better more quickly.

Safe, At-Home Stomach Flu Treatments

Getting stomach flu treatment is a safe and convenient way to overcome your symptoms quickly. One of our registered nurses will arrive at your home to administer treatment. Our nurses wear medical-grade personal protective equipment and adhere to social distancing as much as possible during your appointment to help ensure your safety.


[1] Mehta S. - Ondansetron for acute gastroenteritis in children.;