Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning: How To Tell The Difference
Differentiating between food poisoning and a stomach flu can be tricky because both share almost identical symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
But you can tell which is which with these critical differences:
- Food poisoning usually begins faster than the stomach flu since you may experience symptoms within hours. In contrast, a stomach bug takes longer to develop.
- Food poisoning typically only lasts for a day or two, but the stomach flu can last longer up to ten days.
- Food poisoning can often be traced back to contaminated food sources, but the stomach flu doesnt have to be linked to a specific food source.
How To Prevent The Risk Of Food Poisoning
Preventing food poisoning is challenging, but you can reduce your risk with the following precautions:
- Keep food refrigerated
- Keep raw food separate from cooked food
- Buy whole cuts of meat instead of processed meat
- Wash fresh produce thoroughly
- Use soap and water to wash your hands before and between food preparation steps
How Soon Can I Eat And Drink After Vomiting And/or Diarrhea
Other than drinking to stay hydrated, there are no hard and fast rules about when and what to eat after food poisoning or stomach bug symptoms have subsided. Its more about what you can tolerate. Every patient reacts differently to foodor to the idea of eating again. Its natural to temporarily lose your appetite when experiencing the stomach flu or food poisoning. Whenever your appetite does return, you can go back to eating, even if you still have diarrhea. Most medical experts do not recommend fasting or following a restricted diet when you have diarrhea. This is to help your body restore its energy and to regain its lost fluids, nutrients and electrolytes. Your gage will be how well you tolerate food.
You May Like: How To Stop Hair From Growing On Your Stomach
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 Can You Tell The Difference Between Stomach Flu And Food Poisoning
If theres little to no difference between stomach flu and food poisoning symptoms, how do we tell them apart? In my experience, the main way to tell the two conditions apart is by taking a careful look at the patients background and recent history. With food poisoning, there is often a history of eating food that is contaminated or suspected to be contaminated. Food poisoning usually comes on quite quickly after eating contaminated food and tends to go away within a few hours to days. Meanwhile, depending upon the person and severity, stomach flu can last up to ten days.
Read Also: How Can I Get My Stomach To Stop Hurting
Technically You Could Have Both
As if it werent hard enough to differentiate the two, SELF magazine points out that it is possible that someone could have both the stomach flu and food poisoning at the same time. Although it is extremely rare. Technically a person could pick up viral gastroenteritis after having a norovirus contaminated meal. Is it food poisoning or the stomach flu? Theres not really a clear line you can draw, says Dr. Adalja to SELF magazine.
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.
Dont Miss: How To Burn Upper Stomach Fat
Also Check: What Medications Reduce Stomach Acid
Let Nature Run Its Course
Tempting as it may be, you typically want to avoid over-the-counter medicine to stop your diarrhea.
Thatâs because the diarrhea is helping to get rid of whatever is making you sick.
If you think you need it, check with your doctor first. And donât give it to children — the side effects for them could be serious.
Stomach Flu Or Food Poisoning How To Tell The Difference
Upset stomach? It could have been that off-tasting salador it could have been a bug you caught at work. Stomach flu and food poisoning can have similar symptoms, but knowing the difference can help you determine how you got sick and if youre contagious.
Board-certified physician Dr. Mitchell Forman explains stomach flu, food poisoning, and how to start feeling better no matter what you have.
You May Like: What Is Stage 4 Stomach Cancer
What Is The Difference Between How Long The Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning Recovery
- The duration of the stomach flu can vary. The symptoms may get better after a few days, but in some cases, a person may be sick with the infection can last for several days, up to 10.
- Food poisoning symptoms usually last anywhere from several hours, a day or two, or up to a several days. The duration of this type of poisoning typically is shorter than the stomach flu.
How K Health Can Help
In most cases, symptoms for the stomach flu and food poisoning are mild and last only a short time. If you have any other questions about what to eat after food poisoning or stomach flu, speak to a doctor.
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? , explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Healths AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
Read Also: How Do I Get Rid Of Stomach Fat
What Foods Can I Eat After Vomiting And/or Diarrhea
When your stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea have fully or partially subsided, you may feel up to eating again. The goal is to reintroduce bland foods that are easy for your stomach to digest. The most recommended foods to eat after the stomach flu, food poisoning or a regular stomach ache are part of whats known as the BRAT diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These particular foods are ideal because of their blandness and because theyre easy to digest. Plus, their high starch content will help bind your stool together, which may reduce bouts of continued diarrhea. BRAT foods are considered low-residual, meaning they stay in your stomach for less time.
How Is Norovirus Spread
Norovirus spreads very easily in public places such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
You can catch it if small particles of vomit or stools from an infected person get into your mouth through:
- close contact with someone with norovirus who may breathe out small particles of the virus that you then inhale
- touching contaminated surfaces or objects, as the virus can survive outside the body for several days
- eating contaminated food, which can happen if an infected person doesn’t wash their hands before preparing or handling food
Norovirus is most infectious from the start of symptoms until 48 hours after all symptoms have stopped. You may also be infectious for a short time before and after this.
You can get norovirus more than once because the virus is always changing and your body is unable to build up long-term resistance to it.
Also Check: What Kind Of Doctor To See For Stomach Pain
What Is A Stomach Bug
Stomach bug is actually a nonspecific term we use to refer to any sort of condition involving vomiting or nausea. In reality, the stomach bug were dealing with is a common infection called Gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis involves the inflammation and irritation of the stomach and intestines, which causes its tell-tale symptoms.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis include:
When suffering from a Stomach Bug, its common to find yourself dehydrated. As you can guess, this is due to the amount of purging your body is doing to fight the virus. If you experience symptoms of dehydration such as dry mouth, extreme thirst, lightheadedness, or dry skin, we advise you call a doctor or visit DOCS Urgent Care of Fairfield, Norwalk, or Bridgeport for immediate attention.
How To Treat It
You should also seek medical care if you have a fever higher than 101, blood in your stool or vomit, diarrhea lasting longer than 2 days, extreme dehydration, blurred vision, tingling in your arm, or intense abdominal pain or the sensation that your abdomen is sticking out, which could be an appendicitis or hernia
If youve had food poisoning before and recognize the symptoms, you may also want to consider a virtual doctor visit. Your provider may be able to call in nausea medication to help you manage your recovery.
Also Check: How Do You Relieve Stomach Pain
How Long Did It Take For The Symptoms To Show Up
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.
What Is The Recovery Time For Each
Most cases of food poisoning and stomach flu pass without needing medical attention. Typically, the stomach flu lasts a few days. For some, it can last multiple weeks.
Food poisoning usually comes and goes quickly depending on your age and overall health. Expect food poisoning recovery time to last 24 to 48 hours. It might take a few more days to get back to full strength. If your symptoms persist with no improvement after 48 hours, see a doctor.
Don’t Miss: How To Recover From Stomach Flu
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.
Getting Over Stomach Viruses & Food Poisoning
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 viruses, bacteria can be fought with prescription medication, so be sure to seek medical attention, such as urgent care. If antibiotics are not needed, staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest is usually your best bet to feeling better.
You May Like: Can Low Blood Sugar Cause Stomach Pain
What Is The Treatment For Food Poisoning Vs Stomach Flu
Food Poisoning Treatment
The primary treatment for food poisoning is with fluids to avoid dehydration, especially in children and the elderly.
Some patients may benefit from medication to reduce nausea and vomiting. The use of medications like loperamide to treat diarrhea is often not advised as it may prolong symptoms or cause additional problems. Patients are advised to check with their doctor before using the medication. Antibiotics are not used to treat viral and most bacterial causes of food poisoning, but may be used in certain circumstances.
Severe bacterial infections and pregnant women with listeriosis will get antibiotics some other pathogens such as certain parasites may be treated with antiparasitic medications. Other relatively rare causes of food poisoning may require special medications.
Home care for mild to moderate bacterial and viral food poisoning is mainly preventing dehydration. Fluid replacement by mouth using a combination of water and electrolyte solutions like Gatorade or Pedialyte is usually enough to avoid dehydration as long is enough is taken to replace the amount lost through diarrhea. A doctor or a specialist should treat infrequent or rare causes of food poisoning moreover, this should be done in severe viral and bacterial food poisonings.
Stomach Flu Treatment
For adults, the doctor may prescribe medications to stop the vomiting such as:
How Do You Get Food Poisoning Vs Stomach Flu
Viruses are the most frequent cause of food poisoning in the U.S. The next highest causes are bacteria. Other causes include chemicals, parasites, toxins, and bacteria.
Foods most commonly associated with food poisoning include:
Symptoms of food poisoning sometimes depend on which organ system the poison effects for example, the neurological system may be altered by neurotoxins like pesticides and botulinum toxin.When a group of individuals experiences similar symptoms after eating or drinking similar foods, food poisoning may be suspected.
Stomach Flu Symptoms and Signs
By definition, gastroenteritis affects both the stomach and the intestines, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms and signs include:
- Low grade fever, usually less than 100 F
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Mild-to-moderate diarrhea
More serious signs and symptoms of stomach flu
- Blood in vomit or stool
- Vomiting more than 48 hours
- Fever higher than 101 F
- Swollen abdomen
- Increasingly severe abdominal pain
- Dehydration â weakness, lightheadedness, decreased urination, dry skin, dry mouth and lack of sweat and tears are characteristic symptoms of dehydration.
Don’t Miss: Does Stomach Cancer Pain Come And Go
What To Do If You Have The Stomach Flu Or Food Poisoning
Although most cases can be treated at home with lots of fluid with electrolytes and rest, severe symptoms such as diarrhea spanning several days and high fevers should not be overlooked.
Your body is actively fighting off the causes of your pain, so take it easy while you recover. While in recovery, you should take the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the infection:
- Wash your hands in warm, soapy water for at least 20 to 30 seconds
- Avoid sharing your food or drink to prevent spreading the illness to others
- Take time off from school or work to allow the illness to heal
What To Do If You Have Norovirus
If you experience sudden diarrhoea and/or vomiting, the best thing to do is to stay at home until you’re feeling better.
There’s no treatment for norovirus, so you have to let it run its course.
You don’t usually need to get medical advice unless there’s a risk of a more serious problem.
To help ease your own or your childs symptoms drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
You need to drink more than usual to replace the fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea as well as water, adults could also try fruit juice and soup.
Avoid giving fizzy drinks or fruit juice to children as it can make their diarrhoea worse. Babies should continue to feed as usual, either with breast milk or other milk feeds.
You can also:
You May Like: What To Feed Baby With Stomach Virus