Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How To Tell Difference Between Stomach Flu And Food Poisoning

So Whats The Difference

What’s the Difference Between Food Poisoning & Stomach Flu?

The difference between the two is simple: time. Similar to a cold and flu, the major determining factor in what youve contracted lays in how long you have it. Typically, Food Poisoning will resolve itself within the span of 24 hours. Conversely, a stomach bug will span about 3 to 5 days.

In short, youd be taking more time off of work from a stomach bug than food poisoning.

How To Prevent Viral Enteritis

Protecting yourself from a stomach virus is similar to the techniques you should be following to protect yourself from COVID-19. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least twenty seconds, avoid touching your face, minimize exposure to people with symptoms, or who have been exposed to the virus.

Stomach Flu And Food Poisoning Defined

Stomach flu and stomach bug are informal terms for viral gastroenteritis, a sickness in which a viral infection causes inflammation in the stomach and intestines. The term stomach flu can be misleading, says UH internal medicine specialist Christopher Thomas, DO, because the illness in not caused by influenza, which attacks the respiratory system.

Though it shares a number of symptoms with viral gastroenteritis, food poisoning is a condition caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water. In fact, food poisoning is an umbrella term for any of the more than 250 foodborne/waterborne illnesses researchers have identified to date.

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What Is A Stomach Virus

The terms stomach flu and stomach virus are used interchangeably both in this article and in popular usage, however the official medical term for this condition is viral gastroenteritis. The Mayo Clinic defines gastroenteritis as âan intestinal infection marked by watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting, and sometimes fever.â As its name indicates, the stomach virus is caused by a virus that can be transmitted from person to person. It is usually not very serious and once a person is struck with the stomach flu, they can expect to recover fully within a few days. While the term âfluâ is used, the stomach flu is not the same thing as influenza, or seasonal flu. That type of flu impacts the respiratory system and causes cold symptoms in the nose, throat, and lungs. Gastroenteritis , on the other hand, affects the stomach and/or intestines.

Both Conditions Have Complications

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Stomach virus symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting will easily lead to dehydration, unless one is taken proper care of. Food poisoning will also cause dehydration due to the same two reasons. Food poisoning can turn out to be fatal for fetuses or yet to be born babies. There are a few strains of the E. coli bacteria that cause substantial damage to the kidneys and may even lead to failure of kidneys.

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All Food Poisonings Are Not The Same

Once you have narrowed down your sickness to food poisoning, you may be wondering how long does food poisoning last?

Well, it depends. Food poisoning can caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants. There is no single type of food poisoning rather, there are many different types of food poisoning, and symptoms, illness duration, and contaminated products can differ with each type.

For instance, salmonellosis is commonly caused by undercooked chicken and other meats, while giardia infections usually occur from uncooked vegetables and fruits. However, both of these types of food poisoning could occur with any type of food, assuming there has been cross-contamination during processing, handling, or cooking.

As well, food poisoning can cause very different symptoms depending on the type. Cholera infections are usually over in less than a day and symptoms clear up afterwards. However, botulism can cause severe symptoms if left untreated, including difficulty speaking, fatigue, and even paralysis. As well, other types of food poisoning can cause kidney damage, liver damage, miscarriages, and even death.

What Foods And Drinks Should I Avoid

Your body is already on the offensive, shooing away the pathogens responsible for food poisoning. You dont want to give the invaders any more ammunition.

Your No. 1 priority should be to avoid the foods that caused you to get sick in the first place. Throw the suspected culprit into the garbage immediately, and keep it shut so the contaminated food is out of your pets reach.

Avoid foods, drinks, and substances that are tough on the stomach, such as:

Also, remember to avoid any oral OTC diarrhea medications.

Follow these simple tips, and you should be feeling better in no time.

Five pathogens are responsible for most foodborne illnesses in the United States. These pathogens include:

  • norovirus, commonly found in oysters, fruits, and vegetables
  • Salmonella, commonly found in eggs, meat, and dairy products
  • Clostridium perfringens, found in meat and poultry
  • Campylobacter, found in undercooked meat and contaminated water
  • Staphylococcus, found in animal products such as cream, eggs, and milk

Salmonella and norovirus are responsible for most hospitalizations for food poisoning. But hospitalizations for food poisoning can also be caused by the following:

  • bacteria
  • contaminants
  • allergens

Undercooked meat and improperly handled produce are common culprits in food poisoning. Wash your hands, utensils, and plates between raw and cooked stages.

Most people who experience food poisoning dont require a trip to the hospital, but you wont want to venture too far from the bathroom either.

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There Is Substantial Difference Between Food Poisoning And Stomach Virus Pertaining To The Symptoms As Well

Stomach virus symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, abdominal cramps, muscle aches, headache and fever. Most symptoms of stomach virus will become obvious only a day or two after being exposed to the specific virus. The symptoms can last for a day or two. In worse cases, the symptoms can easily last for ten days and more. Food poisoning has a few similar symptoms, like fever, vomiting, nausea and watery diarrhea. But food poisoning is also characterized by loss of appetite and fatigue. The symptoms will usually become obvious in a few hours after eating the contaminated food. It is quite possible that the symptoms will experienced within an hour of having a meal or drinking something. In some cases, the toxins or microorganisms take time to have an effect. In such cases, the symptoms will appear only in a few days, could be a few weeks. Depending on the severity of the contamination, the symptoms may last for a week or fortnight.

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Getting Over Stomach Viruses & Food Poisoning

Stomach Flu vs. Food Poisoning Medical Course

The path to feeling better is roughly the same even if stomach viruses are significantly different than food poisoning. As with most illnesses, staying hydrated is key. Since stomach viruses and food poisoning tend to result in your body expelling fluids, youll want to replenish those fluids with water, electrolyte drink or tea.

Remember to stay away from alcohol and coffee, as these drinks are dehydrating and will keep you passing very watery diarrhea.

When you have a stomach illness, your digestive system tends to be sensitive. That means youll want to eat foods that are bland and easy to digest, and maybe even limit yourself to consuming liquids until you feel that you can handle solid food. Even if you love spicy food, its best to put down that hot sauce as spicy foods can be hard on the stomach while digesting. When in doubt, and looking for tried & true home remedies, you can follow the BRAT diet:

B – Bananas

A – Apples

T – Toast

Other easy to digest foods include potatoes, vegetables, and plain yogurt .

When food poisoning is caused by bacteria, sometimes antibiotics are prescribed. Unlike with viruses, bacteria can be fought with prescription medication, so be sure to seek medical attention, such as an urgent care. If antibiotics are not needed, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest is usually your best bet to feeling better.

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What You Can Do At Home

When you are sick in bed, you may be wondering how long will this stomach bug last. The good news is that although food poisoning and the stomach flu are rather unpleasant to deal with, a few days of bedrest, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating bland foods should have you back on your feet. The key thing is to avoid dehydration, which can lead to complications. Make sure you drink plenty of water, Gatorade, or another electrolyte solution.

If it is hard for you to keep liquids down, try drinking a few sips every half an hour. Avoid drinking soda or other sugary drinks, as they will not replace the electrolytes that you need. Sucking on ice chips can also keep you hydrated and may feel soothing.

If you are nauseous and vomiting, the thought of food probably doesnât even appeal to you, but once your appetite returns, try to start eating again. This will aid your body in recovery. Pace yourself and donât eat too much too quickly, or you just might find yourself back where you started.

Once you are ready to eat, start with foods on the BRAT diet, which are bland and gentle on your still-fragile system.

Food Poisoning Vs The Flu: When To Worry

So when should you rush off to the doctor, and when should you just sit back and wait for your illness to resolve itself? It can be hard to figure out whats an actual emergency. Seek medical attention immediately if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Your symptoms last for more than a few days
  • There is blood present in your stool
  • You are experiencing a fever
  • You are experiencing severe stomach/abdominal pains
  • You have been eating wild mushrooms
  • You are pregnant or
  • You are experiencing symptoms that are not associated with regular food poisoning or the flu, such as bleeding, severe pain, or vision distortion.

If your symptoms are limited to diarrhea, moderate abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, then you can wait a few days to see if your illness resolves. Often, both food poisoning and the flu will resolve on their own.

Wash vegetables, fruits, and other foods before eating them.

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So You’re Feeling Terrible But Why Knowing The Reason For Your Upset Stomach Is The First Step To Feeling Better A Nurse Explains The Difference Between Food Poisoning And A Stomach Bug

Its a question no one ever wants to have to ask: Is this food poisoning or a stomach bug? Your stomachs starting to feel uneasy, but where did it come from? Either way, food poisoning and stomach bugs are miserable at best and dangerous at worst.

Both types of upset stomach can feel similar, but they have a few key differences to help you know what is going on, and more importantly, when youre going to get some relief.

How Can I Prevent From Getting The Stomach Flu Or Food Poisoning

Stomach Bug or Food Poisoning, Know The Differences ...

How can you prevent from getting the stomach flu?

  • The best way to prevent getting this type of “flu” is to avoid contact with anyone suffering from the disease .
  • Wash your hands frequently if you have been around a person who is sick.
  • A vaccine is available against rotavirus, one of the most common causes of this type of “flu.”

How can you prevent from getting food poisoning?

  • Prevention of food poisoning involves careful attention to food storage and preparation. While it is not completely possible to prevent poisoning from contaminated food that was later sold, there are steps you can take to prevent food poisoning at home.
  • Keep the kitchen and your food prep area and kitchen tools clean.
  • Cook seafood and meats to thoroughly to their recommended temperatures . provides achartthat describes safe cooking temperatures for foods.
  • Refrigerate perishable foods.

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How Are Food Poisoning And Stomach Flu Treated

Basic treatment for food poisoning and the stomach flu is the same, but if you have a severe case of either, you might need to see a doctor.

Regardless of whether you have food poisoning or the stomach flu, the most important thing is to try to keep yourself hydrated, Dr. Adalja says. The vomiting, diarrhea, and inability to eat or drink much can dehydrate you. While water is great, an electrolyte solution like Pedialyte can help replace nutrients and electrolytes youve lost, so it isnt a bad option if you can handle it, Dr. Adalja says.

These illnesses typically pass with a lot of suffering but minimal complications. However, there are some signs that you need medical attention, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Youve been vomiting frequently and unable to keep liquids down for more than 24 hours

  • You see blood in your vomit or poop

  • You have severe abdominal pain

  • You have diarrhea for three or more days

  • You experience signs of dehydration like excessive thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, and dark yellow pee

  • You have a fever

  • You experience any neurological issues like blurry vision, muscle weakness, or tingling in your arms

  • Depending on what youre dealing with, treatment might range from antibiotics to anti-nausea medications to replacing lost fluids via I.V.

    Bananas Rice Applesauce And Toast

    Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are the foundation of the BRAT diet.

    Health professionals commonly recommend these bland foods for stomach complaints, as theyre gentle on your stomach.

    Keep in mind that the BRAT diet alone will not provide your body with all the nutrients it needs.

    In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children return to their usual age-appropriate diets as soon as they are rehydrated .

    Nonetheless, bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are safe options to start with when queasy from the stomach flu.


    Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are safe foods to try while sick with the stomach flu.

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    What Causes The Stomach Bug

    Several different viruses may cause the stomach bug. Viruses that most frequently cause it include norovirus, rotavirus, and adenovirus.

    The norovirus alone causes up to 21 million cases of the stomach bug in the United States each year. Other viruses such as astroviruses can also cause this condition.

    Stomach bug caused by a rotavirus or norovirus infection is highly contagious. In the United States, infection most commonly occurs between October and April. The most common way to contract the virus is from direct contact with someone who is sick.

    You can also contract the virus from contact with something someone infected has touched that contains their stool, saliva, or vomit substance with the virus in it.

    How To Prevent The Risk Of Stomach Flu

    Med Talk, Health Talk: Stomach flu vs Food Poisoning

    You can reduce your risk of contracting a stomach bug by following good hygiene practices, ensuring you thoroughly wash your hands especially if youre sick or have been exposed to sick people. Chat to your doctor about the vaccine for rotavirus if you are considering something more.

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    Stomach Bug Vs Food Poisoning

    We all know the horror of food poisoning: what looks like a delicious meal ends up sending you straight to bed for a day. Just the same, shaking the wrong hand can knock you down for a week with a stomach bug. But whats the difference between the two? The answer seems pretty obvious, given their names but when youre bedridden and fighting waves of nausea, it can be hard to tell what your body is fighting.

    When Should You See A Doctor

    If you experience the following issues while dealing with your illness, its time to see your doctor, especially if youre very young, very old, pregnant, have a compromised immune system, or have multiple medical issues, says Dr. Lee.

    • Struggling to keep up with fluid losses with obvious signs of dehydration
    • Blood in stool
    • High fever
    • Vomiting for more than 24 hours
    • Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days

    Both food poisoning and stomach flu can result in complications, or even be fatal, if not treated properly. In severe cases, antibiotics may be necessary, says Dr. Lee. Your doctor can offer tests to determine the cause of your illness, often from a stool sample, to find the best treatment.

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    Do You Have Other Symptoms Besides Gi Issues

    Again, ongoing diarrhea attacks and a vomit-thon are the main signs. But stomach-flu sufferers can also have “additional extra-intestinal symptoms, or things that happen outside of your GI tract, says Dr. Sonpal. These can be signs of dehydration like headache, lightheadedness and dry mouth.

    People with food poisoning can also experience non-stomach related signs. Depending on the germ youve regrettably swallowed, you could also have flu-like symptoms , increased gas, and in rare cases much scarier symptoms such as slurred speech, drooping eyelids, or a loss of balance, according to the Centers for Disease Control . Weakness, body aches, or even a rash are also possible signs, says , a board-certified family and ER doctor in New York City.

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    How Long Did It Take For The Symptoms To Show Up

    Difference Between Flu and Food Poisoning

    In general, if you’ve picked up norovirus, the first signs of the illness will appear within 12-48 hours, according to the CDC.

    For food poisoning, it depends. If your symptoms are caused by a microbe, you might not feel bad until 3-4 days after consuming it in your food. But if the awfulness is caused by a reaction to a toxin released by the microbe, the discomfort comes on much faster. Eat something in the morning, and you can have symptoms that afternoon, Van Pham, DO, primary-care physician at MemorialCare Medical Group in Long Beach, California, tells Health.

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