When To Get Help From A Doctor
In most cases, you can let GI issues run their course, says Barajas. However, if you become extremely dehydrated, develop sunken eyes, high fever or blood in your stools, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
“In the case of gastroenteritis or food poisoning, you may have a pathogen that requires additional antibiotic treatment,” says Barajas.
Got nausea and diarrhea?
How Do I Know If I Have Stomach Flu Or Food Poisoning
Dr Vera shares, Cases of food poisoning usually cluster amongst individuals who have eaten from the same food source at the same time and experience symptoms shortly after, from hours to short days.
In comparison, cases of stomach flu would be more sporadic without this history of having recently had the same food with other unwell persons.
Both conditions can typically be treated at home with medications to relieve symptoms, and plenty of hydration.
When To Call A Doctor
Get medical help if youâre vomiting and canât keep any liquids down for longer than 24 hours, or you have diarrhea for more than a couple of days . Signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, dry mouth, deep yellow urine or little or no urine, and severe weakness. Other signs that you need medical help include severe pain in your gut or rectum, fever higher than 101 degrees F, stools with blood or pus or black color, or any nervous system problems, like issues with balance, coordination, or numbness.
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How Do You Know If You Have The Stomach Flu
The usual symptoms of viral gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, include:
Nausea and vomiting
Often lack of appetite or nausea is the first sign of stomach flu, with vomiting usually following soon after and diarrhea after that. Vomiting typically stops before diarrhea, and you may recover your appetite quickly.
Cramping and diarrhea
Stomach cramps and audible noises from the intestine often precede watery diarrhea. Severe diarrhea is when you have over ten bowel movements in one day. Generally, viral gastroenteritis doesnt cause pus or blood in the stool.
You may have a fever with the stomach flu, but it rarely goes high. You may also have achy muscles and feel generally weak and exhausted.
How Can I Get Rid Of Stomach Flu
The most important things you can do to feel better faster are rest and staying well hydrated. Between diarrhea and vomiting, your body loses a lot of water and electrolytes. If your belly is still upset, you can take small, frequent sips of water, sports drinks, juice or broth, or chew on ice chips. It is important to know that water alone may not be enough to keep you hydrated in severe cases of diarrhea so make sure to take in electrolyte balance hydration . Eat a normal diet when you feel hungry again.
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How Long Does Stomach Flu Last
The stomach flu usually lasts less than a week. Be sure to stay home if you have symptoms, and continue to practice good handwashing afterward. The virus can still be in your stool for up to two weeks after youve stopped having symptoms, so be extra careful with your bathroom habits. Always wash your hands after having a bowel movement, and wash any soiled fabrics in hot soapy water.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have A Stomach Bug
While viral gastroenteritis is self-limiting and typically clears up within a week at most, there are certain members of the population who are at risk of complications from dehydrationparticularly children and the elderly. If you or a family member suspect symptoms are due to a bout of gastroenteritis, visit to ConvenientMD can help you get on the road to recovery, and put your mind at ease. Our providers will evaluate your symptoms to determine the root cause and recommend an effective treatment plan, which may include IV fluids for those who are significantly dehydrated.
If your digestive system has been feeling off, you may be suffering from gastroenteritis. Stop into any ConvenientMD location in New Hampshire, Maine or Massachusetts for an evaluation.
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Is It Stomach Bug Stomach Flu Or Food Poisoning
Your stomach is in knots as another wave of nausea strikes, sending you to the bathroom for the third time in an hour. But whats the cause? Two likely culprits are stomach bug and food poisoning. But how does stomach flu differ from food poisoning? Understanding the difference may lead to feeling better sooner and even prevent the illness from occurring in the first place.
Do You Think You Have The Stomach Flu Or A Stomach Bug
It is probably norovirus, a common virus that is not related to the flu. Norovirus is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea, and foodborne illness.
- body aches
Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines. This is called acute gastroenteritis.
A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.
If you have norovirus illness, you can feel extremely ill, and vomit or have diarrhea many times a day. This can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- dry mouth and throat
- feeling dizzy when standing up
Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.
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Whats The Bottom Line
The more accurate term for the stomach flu is viral gastroenteritis, because its not related to the influenza viruses that cause the respiratory illnesses we see in fall and winter. There are several types of viruses that can cause viral gastroenteritis. The most common of these is norovirus.
If you have viral gastroenteritis, you may pass the virus on to others when you have symptoms and for a few days after they go away. However, the virus can still be present in your stool for weeks after recovery. For this reason, its important to wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom and before handling food or anything else that will go into your mouth.
Most people recover without seeking medical attention. However, if you experience signs of serious dehydration, blood in your stool, persistent fever, or severe abdominal pain, get medical attention right away.
Home Remedies For Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
But UTIs also cause other problems, like a burning sensation when urinating, frequent urination, and urine thats cloudy, dark, smelly, or bloody.
A UTI can be successfully treated with antibiotics, so its important to see a doctor and get a correct diagnosis.
Some research has suggested a link between UTIs and gastroenteritis in kids. In one study, 35 percent of pediatric UTI patients also had gastroenteritis.
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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.
How Long Does The Stomach Flu Last Compared To Food Poisoning
Thankfully, both illnesses are typically short-lived as long as you dont develop any complications . Most cases of the stomach flu last for less than a week and many people get better on their own without medical intervention, according to the NIDDK. As for food poisoning, you can expect a mild case to last a few hours to several days as well.
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Preventing The Stomach Bug
Even though the stomach bug is sometimes called the stomach flu, your annual flu vaccine will not prevent it. Different types of viruses cause the stomach flu. Antibiotics will not help treat the stomach bug because antibiotics work to treat bacterial infections, not viruses.
Take measures to prevent yourself from transmitting the stomach flu to others. Youre typically the most contagious when youre feeling the worst and a few days afterward. The bug can stay in your stool for up to 2 weeks .
You should also consider having your baby get the vaccine against the rotavirus when theyre 2 months old.
Food Poisoning Vs Stomach Flu Treatment
Unfortunately, you usually have to ride out your symptoms, regardless of whether you have food poisoning or stomach flu. This includes plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids to make up for the loss of electrolytes, and a diet of bland foods , says Dr. Lee.
Extreme dehydration is the main concern in both cases. During diarrhea and/or vomiting, it may be difficult to keeps foods or liquid down. Unfortunately, you may feel worse if you become dehydrated and recovery may be slowed if your body doesnt receive the nutrients it needs, says Jennifer Williams, MPH, a research scientist specializing in hydration at Abbott Nutrition.
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While drinking water is important for the body, it is not enough to help replace the key electrolytes, like sodium, chloride, and potassium, that are lost during dehydrating events, says Williams. Sports drinks or other drinks that contain electrolytes will help you recover.
Avoid raw fruits and vegetables until symptoms go away, suggests Dr. Hanauer. This includes greasy foods as well, which may be more difficult to digest. If you have stomach flu, I usually tell patients to avoid milk products for a week. It disrupts the small intestine, where lactose is absorbed, so you might not be able to absorb it until the lining of the small intestine regenerates, he adds. Lactose may not be a problem with bacterial food poisoning, since it affects more of the colon, not the small intestine.
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What Causes Food Poisoning
Food poisoning develops when infectious organisms such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites contaminate foods. Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella are among the top five germs that cause food poisoning in the United States.
You may get food poisoning from eating contaminated or undercooked meat. However, affected meat isnt the only food that causes food poisoning. The following foods can also lead to foodborne illness:
- raw and undercooked eggs
Babies may have sunken eyes or fontanels when they become dehydrated. A fontanel is also known as the soft spot on a babys head. You should seek medical attention if any of these symptoms occur.
How Contagious Is Norovirus
Norovirus is very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. Both stool and vomit are infectious. Particular care should be taken with young children in diapers who may have diarrhea. People infected with norovirus are contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill to at least three days after recovery. Some people may be contagious for as long as two weeks after recovery. Therefore, it is particularly important for people to use good hand washing and other hygienic practices after they have recently recovered from norovirus illness.
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Stomach Flu Or Food Poisoning How To Tell The Difference
While the bathroom may be a safe, quiet space for many us to do our business privately especially for some parents who need space from their little ones you definitely dont want to find yourself on the toilet for too long.
However, if youve been hit hard with vomiting, diarrhea or both, its probably an arms length away at the moment.
Was it the chicken that didnt taste quite right last night? Or did you get it from someone? Whatever the reason, clearly youve either come down with food poisoning or the dreaded stomach bug. But how do you know the difference? It may be tough to know at first because the symptoms are so similar.
There is quite a lot of overlap between the symptoms of viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning, said Matthew Cook, DO, a family medicine physician with Banner Health Clinic in San Tan Valley, AZ. Both illnesses share many of the same symptoms.
If you find yourself praying to the porcelain god, heres how to differentiate between the two and get yourself some much-needed relief for both.
My Stomach Flu Disaster Holiday In Turkey
When our kids were about 10 and 12 we decided to try an all inclusive holiday in Turkey. All inclusive sounds very seductive as everything, all meals, drinks and snacks are included in the price. Unfortunately a few days into the holiday we all came down with awful stomach flu symptoms. The holiday was completely ruined and the resort doctor was kept very busy!
We have never been on an all inclusive holiday since, nor indeed can I bring myself to go back to Turkey at the moment. I think the problem lay with the mass catered buffet style food and probably less than perfect hygiene standards behind the scenes.
That does not mean that all mass catering or all inclusive holidays are bad but you are more at risk of coming down with gastric flu symptoms in these situations.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms
Common symptoms of norovirus infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Less common symptoms can include low-grade fever or chills, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms usually begin 1 or 2 days after ingesting the virus, but may appear as early as 12 hours after exposure. The illness typically comes on suddenly. The infected person may feel very sick and vomit often, sometimes without warning, many times a day. Sometimes people infected with norovirus have no symptoms at all, but can still pass the virus to others.
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How Can I Protect Myself From Stomach Flu
Stomach flu viruses live in the vomit and stool of infected people and you can catch them by coming into close contact with infected people or food and drink or water which has been contaminated by an infected person.
Surfaces in the kitchen and tableware can also have the virus on them as well as sheets, towels and clothing that has been in contact with someone who has the virus.
These viruses spread very quickly and you are more likely to catch them and suffer stomach virus symptoms in settings where lots of people are sharing a space such as cruise ships, schools, restaurants, barracks and elderly care facilities.
If one person is infected in a setting like this the virus will seize the opportunity and spread from host to host. This is even more likely if the infected person is handling food.
I hear you saying but surely they would not be there if they were suffering from stomach flu symptoms? Surely they would be at home in bed or in the bathroom!
The problem is that a person can be contagious either before the symptoms show themselves or after the symptoms have cleared up. The virus can also live for some time on surfaces.
The best way to protect yourself is to practise good hand hygiene and to wear rubber or plastic gloves if you are clearing up after somebody who is ill. Do not share any personal items with them. Normal soap is just as effective as anti-bacterial wash but unfortunately hand washing is not as effective against rotavirus.
Is Stomach Flu Contagious
Viral stomach flu spreads easily to others. You can catch a stomach flu virus any time of the year, but the common norovirus is more widespread from November to April when people tend to be more indoors. Because a variety of viruses can cause stomach flu, you might get different versions of gastroenteritis many times throughout life.
Its spread from person to person by coming into contact with tiny, invisible particles from a sick persons stool or vomit if you:
- Touch a surface and come in contact with the germs and you touch food or your mouth.
- Eat or drink food or beverages that have a sick persons germs.
- Have close contact with someone who has stomach flu .
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