Friday, April 12, 2024

What Is The Difference Between Food Poisoning And Stomach Virus

How Do You Know If You Have The Stomach Flu Or Food Poisoning

Stomach Flu vs. Food Poisoning Medical Course

How do I know if I have the stomach flu?

  • Specific tests for the stomach flu usually are not ordered, and the diagnosis is suggested by the signs and symptoms described to the doctor by the patient, for example, pain or cramping in the stomach, diarrhea, and fever.
  • Stool samples can be sent for cultures or other tests to identify the exact organism that is causing the illness, but this usually is not done unless the patient has blood in his or her stool. If a patient is vomiting blood or has blood in the stool, he or she should contact a medical doctor or health care professional immediately.

How do I know if I have food poisoning?

  • The diagnosis of food poisoning also usually is made by a doctor observing the patient for the typical signs and symptoms of this type of poisoning , and specific tests are usually not ordered. The history of the disease is important, since multiple people who ate or drank the same foods or beverages may become ill.
  • Stool cultures are one of the few ways to pinpoint the type of bacteria, virus, fungi, or prion that caused the poisoning.

What Is The Treatment

Some cases of stomach virus and food poisoning may resolve in a few days with simple lifestyle changes and home remedies. If not, it is advised to seek medical attention.

  • Adequate rest and drinking plenty of clear liquids, such as water, broths, and juices, to treat and prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Avoid certain foods like dairy, fatty, high-fiber foods, or highly flavored foods because they are difficult to digest and may worsen diarrhea. Simple food like crackers, toast, eggs, rice, or chicken may be eaten.
  • Over-the-counter, antidiarrheal, and anti-vomiting medications: These should not be taken without consulting a doctor. When a person has diarrhea or vomiting, the body is trying to eliminate toxins and harmful bacteria as well. Antidiarrheal medication may stop diarrhea but in turn, will cause a build of toxins and harmful bacteria in the body.
  • Over-the-counter medications like paracetamol can be taken for fever and pain.
  • Probiotics: These are microorganisms that boost the levels of good bacteria in the intestine and help restore gut health. Probiotics are present in certain brands of yogurt and available as supplements.

Medical management:

If the symptoms do not resolve, the doctor may recommend the following:

What Is Stomach Virus

A stomach virus is also called stomach flu or gastroenteritis. It is a viral infection that infects the tummy and the gut. The most common cause is norovirus and other viruses. Stomach viruses are contagious and spread easily. Stomach viruses may spread in the following ways:

  • Consuming contaminated food or drinks
  • Direct contact or sharing utensils with an infected person
  • Touching surfaces that may be infected

Also Check: How To Lose Just Stomach Fat

Stomach Virus Or Food Poisoning How To Tell The Difference

Food poisoning may sound much more sinister than stomach virus, and it sometimes is, but both illnesses can cause similar symptoms. You may experience diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain with either. A common concern with both is dehydration, which may be life-threatening if not addressed.

But one form of food poisoning, botulism, can affect your nervous system and may be fatal if not treated appropriately. Other types can cause kidney damage or developmental delays in infants and young children .

So it makes sense to understand the differences between these common stomach ailments and to know when you should call the doctor or seek urgent medical help.

The experts at Chesapeake ERgent Care are very familiar with both and have provided information that may help you spot the difference between a stomach virus and food poisoning. Theyve also included a list of concerning signs and symptoms to watch for that may require a trip to the office or, in some cases, immediate medical attention.

How Long Did It Take For The Symptoms To Show Up

Whats the Difference Between Stomach Flu and Food ...

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.

Read Also: Is The Stomach Flu Going Around Now

How Do I Know If Its A Stomach Virus Or Food Poisoning

Although the symptoms of stomach flu and food poisoning can overlap, the primary indicator of which you have will be the timing of symptoms.

Viral stomach flu will incubate for roughly 24-48 hours after exposure to the virus, whereas food poisoning will be much faster at 2-6 hours after eating contaminated food. Many cases of the stomach flu resolve in a few days, with more prolonged cases lasting up to 10 days. Most food poisoning cases last only for a day or two.

Stomach Flu

Read: Stomach Virus Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments

Ways To Avoid Getting Sick

Even if youre only experiencing minor abdominal pain, dealing with stomach illnesses is never fun. To help prevent contracting these common conditions, here are some good habits to practice:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly, especially when sick or exposed to someone sick.

  • When sick, stay home to avoid spreading illness.

  • Keep your food preparation area and equipment clean.

  • Fully cook all meats and seafood.

  • Keep perishable foods refrigerated.

When youre looking for fast and effective stomach and gastrointestinal treatment in Chicago, come to Aayu Clinics. Learn more about our clinic and locations and drop by today.

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Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning: Whats The Difference

Viral stomach bugs and bad cases of food poisoning can have similar gastrointestinal symptomsbut there are some key differences between the two.

  • Viral gastroenteritis is caused by a virus passed from person to person. Even though its called a flu, its not caused by the same influenza viruses we get flu shots for. There are also other kinds of gastroenteritis caused by parasites and bacteria.
  • Foodborne illness is caused by eating food thats contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or a virus. Food can become contaminated when its not cooked correctly or handled safely.

Food Poisoning Vs A Stomach Bug: How To Tell Them Apart

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

When trying to figure out if you are suffering from food poisoning or a stomach bug, there are some key things which can help you quickly pinpoint the culprit.

Onset:Food poisoning has a more rapid onset. If you eat contaminated food, you can become sick in as little as an hour or two. If you go out to a restaurant and are throwing up a few hours later, then its more likely that you have food poisoning.

Abdominal pains:Both food poisoning and stomach bugs can cause abdominal pains, but they are usually more severe with food poisoning. With a virus, you may have a dull ache in your stomach, but you probably wont get the sharp, stabbing pains that often come with food poisoning.

Family sickness:If your entire family comes down with a sickness at the same time, then its likely from something you all ate. Viruses, on the other hand, often spread from person to person, which means you will have different onsets of sickness than with food poisoning.

Duration:Both sicknesses can last up to 10 days, but food poisoning is more likely to clear up in a very short amount of time. If you feel better after a few hours or a after a nights sleep, theres a good chance it was a stomach bug.

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The Exact Treatments For Food Poisoning And Stomach Virus Also Vary

Food poisoning calls for antibiotics if the symptoms are severe. The lost fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea must be replaced. Patients are often administered saline and glucose. Stomach virus symptoms are relatively milder and one must rest, also take saline and glucose among other recommended or prescribed fluids, steadily switch from a liquid diet to a solid diet which can include rice, toast and potatoes. Fatty and spicy foods, caffeine and dairy products should be avoided.

Both food poisoning and stomach virus infections can be avoided. One must be careful not to come in contact with anyone who may have been infected by a stomach virus. To avoid food poisoning, cleanliness and hygiene are the two most significant measures, especially in the kitchen and for cooking appliances and utensils.

What To Do If You Have Food Poisoning

If you are vomiting or have diarrhea, the most pressing concern is dehydration. But you may want to avoid food and fluids for a few hours. As soon as you are able, begin taking small sips of water or sucking on ice chips.

Besides water, you may also want to drink a rehydration solution. These solutions help replace electrolytes, which are the minerals in your body fluid that conduct electricity. Theyre necessary for your body to function.

Rehydration solutions are especially helpful for:

  • children
  • people who have a compromised immune system
  • people who have a chronic illness

When you can eat solid food, begin with small amounts of bland foods that include:

  • crackers

You should contact your doctor when you first experience symptoms if you:

  • are older than 60 years of age
  • are an infant or toddler
  • are pregnant
  • have a weakened immune system
  • have a chronic health condition like diabetes or kidney disease

If youre taking diuretics and develop food poisoning, call your doctor and ask if its safe to stop using them.

In general, you should see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • diarrhea lasting longer than two days, or 24 hours in an infant or child
  • signs of dehydration, including extreme thirst, dry mouth, reduced urination, lightheadedness, or weakness
  • bloody, black, or pus-filled stool
  • bloody vomit
  • a fever of 101.5 F or higher in adults, 100.4 F for children
  • blurred vision

You can prevent food poisoning in your home by following the basics of food safety:

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Food Poisoning Vs Stomach Flu: Whats The Difference

Food poisoning definition

Simply put, food poisoning is an illness caused by consuming spoiled and contaminated foods, or foods contaminated with toxins, says Christine Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist at Cleveland Clinic. The source of this contamination can be hard to pinpoint, as theres a huge range of bacteria and virusessay, like E. coli, listeria, salmonella, norovirus, and many morethat can lead to food poisoning in different ways.

Foods can get contaminated at any point of processing , production , or during serving process , says Dr. Lee. Its more common to experience food poisoning after eating in places where meals were prepared for large groups of people, such as school cafeterias, social gatherings, and restaurants, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Stomach flu definition

Stomach flu, medically known as viral gastroenteritis, is a short-lived stomach disorder of an infectious cause attributed to a virusmost commonly noroviruses and rotavirus, says Dr. Lee.

Both Conditions Have Complications

Difference Between Flu and Food Poisoning

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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When To Go To Urgent Care For Food Poisoning Vs Er

Most of the time, it’s fine to pick urgent care if you want an opinion after coming down with food poisoning or a stomach bug. As long as youre not in potentially life-threatening danger, urgent care providers will be able to offer the medical opinion you need.

That said, if it does seem serious, a trip to the ER may be in order. So, how do you know if food poisoning or a stomach virus is bad enough to warrant a hospital visit? If you’re experiencing one of the symptoms below, seek medical emergency attention immediately:

  • Blood in stool or vomit
  • Green or yellow colored vomit
  • Fever above 101°F
  • Severe and/or constant pain in the abdomen
  • Passing out
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing

How Do You Treat An Upset Stomach During Covid

Your body needs plenty of water and nutrients to fight off viruses like COVID or run of the mill food poisoning, Dr. Richardson explains. But nausea can complicate matters. “Itâs hard to keep up your energy if you canât eat because of nausea or becoming dehydrated from diarrhea,” he says. Make sure you’re taking in as much water and nutrients as you’re able to. Dr. Jain tells Bustle that a sports drink can help give you the electrolytes, minerals, and water that you need in one go.

“Pre-pandemic, I would have recommended staying hydrated and waiting it out a few days, but COVID has changed everything,” Dr. Richardson tells Bustle. “If you develop digestive symptoms, do reach out to your primary care doctor and think about getting tested for COVID. When in doubt, reach out to your doctor for advice.”


Dr. Michael Richardson, M.D., family medicine doctor with One Medical

Dr. Sanjeev Jain, M.D., doctor double-board certified in immunology and internal medicine, Columbia Asthma and Allergy Clinic

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When To Contact A Doctor

Regarding your diagnosis of the stomach flu vs. food poisoning, a doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may also take a stool sample to check for key signs such as blood or a noticeable bacteria count.

If you exhibit any symptoms of the stomach flu or food poisoning for more than a prolonged period of time, then you should make an appointment with your doctor, who can tell you about the difference between food poisoning and stomach flu.

If you are an adult, then you should contact your doctor when you are:

  • Not able to keep liquids down for more than 24 hours
  • Vomiting for more than two days
  • Vomiting blood
  • Experiencing excess dehydration such as darker urine and a dry mouth
  • Noticing blood in your stool
  • Experiencing a fever above 102 °F for at least a few days

If you are a parent and feel that your child is exhibiting symptoms, you should immediately consult with your doctor. Although most cases of either illness are not fatal, extra caution should be used when examining those who are young, elderly, or pregnant.

If you experience any of the symptoms above, with a top U.S. doctor at PlushCare today.

Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning Vs Covid

Difference Between Flu and Food Poisoning

Some stomach flu and food poisoning symptoms overlap with COVID-19 symptoms. But COVID-19 is often accompanied by respiratory problems, like trouble breathing and congestion, as well as severe fatigue, a sore throat, and the loss of taste or smell.

If youre having any symptoms of COVID-19, follow these steps:

  • Stay at home and wear a mask when around family members or roommates.
  • Tell them about your symptoms. Theyll give you instructions on what to do and how to keep yourself and others safe.
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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.

    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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    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.

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