Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning: Which One Is It
- Lauren Stuttaford
Summer is usually the time when youre socializing with loved ones, enjoying poolside meals, or even picnicking in the park. During the merrymaking, we often forget about a serious concern food poisoning. Or could it actually be stomach flu? Here is everything you need to know about stomach flu vs food poisoning.
Is It A Stomach Virus Or Food Poisoning
Family Practitioner, Reliant Medical Group
When you are vomiting every hour or going through a bad round of diarrhea, you may not care that much whether you have a stomach virus or food poisoning. However, once you recover you may wonder if you can safely return to your favorite restaurant or barbecue stand againso it can be valuable to know the difference.
In the United States, the most common cause of a stomach virus is the norovirus. This is a viral infection that attacks the digestive system . Stomach viruses like the norovirus are very contagious and can spread quickly. Weve all heard the stories about passengers on cruise ships suffering en masse with the norovirus. Unfortunately, people infected with a stomach virus are contagious from the moment they become ill to at least the first few days after they recover. Typical stomach viruses can be spread in a number of ways:
- Eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated with the virus
- Touching a surface that someone with the infection has touched
- Having direct contact with someone that has the virus
Stomach viruses can be easily spread through the vomit and stool of infected people, so caretakers should be especially careful and take precautions. Although there are rapid stool tests that can be used to detect the norovirus or rotavirus, your doctor will probably make a diagnosis by asking about your symptoms. Typical symptoms of a stomach virus are:
All About Stomach Flu
It would be better to have a clear description about these two diseases to ensure stomach flu vs food poisoning. Differs stomach flu and food poisoning can be started by defining every single detail about stomach flu. This disease is known as gastroenteritis. It happens when the intestine or stomach gets infected by virus or bacteria. Stomach flu is different from the flu or influenza. Stomach flu deals with stomach problems. Influenza becomes the main cause of some general aches like sore throats, fevers, runny noses, and others.
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When Should I Call A Doctor
The symptoms of food poisoning dont typically last more than 48 hours. If 2 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared, its time to call a medical professional.
Food Poisoning Vs Stomach Flu: How To Tell The Difference
You know the feeling: You cant keep food down, youre running to the bathroom every 10 minutes and it feels like your stomach is doing cartwheels. Either you ate something spoiled or you picked up a terrible bugbut which one is it? And what can you do to feel better fast?
To be honest, the clinical symptoms of stomach flu and food poisoning really overlap a lot, says Dr. Michael Rice, director of inpatient medicine gastroenterology at the University of Michigan. You can have vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and fever with either. Often, he says, the easiest way to determine the cause of such an illness is to look back at the persons recent history.
If the symptoms are caused by food poisoning, they tend to occur within hours of eating something, says Rice. So if you can recall snacking on something questionable, or if others who ate the same thing as you have similar symptoms, you may have found your culprit.
If youre the only one who got sick after eating a certain dish, however, you more likely picked up a viral illness in another wayfrom a sneeze, a handshake or a contaminated doorknob, for instance.
This type of stomach flu, which doctors call acute gastroenteritis, isnt caused by the influenza virus. While influenza is largely a respiratory illness, stomach flu is brought on by other common viruses that cause more severe GI issues. For these infections, symptoms usually start one to three days after exposure.
How Are Food Poisoning And Stomach Flu Diagnosed
Theres a lot of overlap between the symptoms of food poisoning and stomach flu, so youand your doctormay need to do a little detective work to try to suss this out.
Mostly, it comes down to the symptoms youre dealing with.
Here are a few things to consider:
The stomach flu typically shows up within one to three days after youve been exposed, and it usually only lasts a day or two, according to the Mayo Clinic. After that, you should start to feel like yourself again, Dr. Adalja says.
If youre dealing with symptoms for a shorter or longer time than a day or two, you may have food poisoning. While norovirus is a common cause of both food poisoning and the stomach flu, so many bacteria can potentially cause the food poisoning that it can have a wider time frame than the stomach flu. Symptoms of food poisoning can crop up just a few hours after contamination, or even days or weeks later, and they can typically last from a few hours to several days, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you have diarrhea and can stomach looking into the toilet bowl, take a peek. Its like the poop version of reading tea leaves: If you see blood in your diarrhea, it could be a sign of food poisoning.
Bloody diarrhea is more likely to be a symptom of some types of food poisoning because some bacteria, like shigella, can cause inflammatory changes in the intestines and lead to bleeding, but viruses are less likely to do so, Dr. Adalja explains.
Food Poisoning And Foodborne Illnesses
The medical term for food poisoning is foodborne illness, which makes sense because youre not being poisoned by food, but rather youre affected by germs that are living on the food. You can contract food poisoning from food that is mishandled or cooked improperly. This may happen when a meal is left out on the table for too long, not refrigerated properly or handled by someone who touched an unclean surface or didnt wash their hands. Eating certain raw or uncooked foods can also lead to food poisoning.
Some examples include:
- Raw shellfish
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What Is Food Poisoning What Is The Stomach Flu
Food poisoning is an illness caused by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with viruses, bacteria, toxins, parasites, or chemicals. Typical symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea.
The stomach flu is a general used term for various inflammatory problems in the digestive tract.
Mineral Boosting Liquid Base
The purpose here is getting the liquid part of the smoothie to do some work for you in replenishing the little ones electrolytes without being too heavy. While raw milk and coconut milk are great in smoothies, when you are just coming off a tummy bug you want to ease into those heavier fluids. Coconut water or nettle tea work well. Or even just water with a big pinch of mineral rich sea salt, Celtic salt, or pink salt works great.
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Soothing Stomach Flu Smoothie
When the storm has passed and the afflicted person is ready to attempt food again, a Soothing Stomach Flu Smoothie is just what Dr. Mom orders.
Its perfectly gentle and contains digestion-soothing ginger and lemon, calming chamomile, plus greens for a boost of nutrition!
Simply add all the ingredients to your blender, blend, and sip slowly.
Visit Village Emergency Centers Today
At Village Emergency Centers, we understand the discomfort and uncertainty that goes along with illnesses like food poisoning and the stomach flu. Not only do they severely inhibit your everyday life but they are also potentially very dangerous. If you have an upset stomach and want to know what is the difference between stomach flu and food poisoning, do not hesitate to contact a Village Emergency Center near you. We have locations across the Greater Houston area and are ready to serve you our doctors and facilities are fully trained and equipped to handle all of your emergency needs. for outstanding medical attention.
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What Causes Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis can be caused by:
Contact with someone suffering from Gastroenteritis
Consumption of contaminated food or water
Unwashed hands after using the bathroom, or changing a diaper
There are three viruses known to cause Gastroenteritis, known as adenovirus, rotavirus, and norovirus. Rotavirus is known as the most common cause of Gastroenteritis in children. Infants can be vaccinated to prevent this particular strain.
Gentle Mineral Rich Veggie
While we love green smoothies, the focus here is getting the digestion up and running again. Gentle veggies like sweet potatoes or any of the squashes are loaded with minerals and are very easy to digest as well as provide a slow burning carbohydrate to the mix. Just use whatever you have on hand. I had mashed sweet potatoes leftover from dinner earlier in the week so I used that. You can steam up a little sweet potato or squash in just 20 minutes time.
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Most Effective Treatments For Food Poisoning
With food poisoning, the goal should be to drink plenty of fluids to help flush out your system and expel the contaminated food toxins. For this reason, unfortunately, vomiting and diarrhea are a plus to help you expel the toxins. Once the elimination period is complete, after 24- to 48-hours start the BRAT diet, which can help bind you up.
The most important thing with food poisoning is to keep fluid levels high to prevent dehydration, which lowers your bodys immunity as well as its ability to fight off bacteria. However, if food poisoning symptoms are really severe, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help you rid your body of the bacteria thats causing your illness.
Preventing The Stomach Flu
Even though a stomach bug is often referred to as the stomach flu, it cannot be prevented with an annual flu shot. This is because the stomach flu is caused by a different type of virus. Also, Healthline notes that antibiotics cant treat the stomach bug because its a virus and antibiotics treat bacteria.
Basically, the only thing a person can do is to try and prevent it from happening. The best way to prevent the stomach flu is to wash your hands regularly during flu season, especially after visiting public places. Also, stay away from people who are sick! If youre the one who is sick, be sure to stay home and away from others for at least 3-days, until you start feeling better.
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Causes Of Stomach Virus
If you have a stomach virus, you probably caught it from someone else who was infected with the same thing. Perhaps you shared a drink with someone who had the virus or kissed them hello or goodbye. Most stomach bugs are highly contagious even during the incubation period before any symptoms have appeared so it can be very easy to catch something without realizing it. You can even catch it by touching something that an infected person touched if it has any of their saliva, vomit, or stool on it that could contain the virus.
There are a few different viruses that cause the stomach flu, with the most common being norovirus and rotavirus.
Different viruses are active during different times of the year. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere both rotavirus and norovirus are most prevalent from October to April. However, there are many viruses that cause gastroenteritis so it is possible to get sick at any time of year.
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.
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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.
What Is The Difference Between The Stomach Flu And Food Poisoning
Stomach flu and food poisoning are very similar conditions, while initial symptoms typically include fever and diarrhea. But a stomach virus can take 24 to 48 hours to develop and can have other symptoms, including:
- Joint stiffness
- Weight loss
Food poisoning symptoms can begin to develop 2 to 6 hours after food consumption and other symptoms can include:
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How Can You Prevent Gastroenteritis
You cannot always avoid getting gastroenteritis, but good hygiene will definitely reduce the risk. Wash your hands properly and regularly, remembering to wash both sides and between your fingers really well. Use hand sanitiser between washes. Change your bedding regularly, avoid sharing cutlery and towels and be careful when preparing meals. Clean and disinfect bathroom surfaces after each use.
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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How Do You Know If You Have The Stomach Flu Or Food Poisoning
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.
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.
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Is It Gastroenteritis The Flu Or Something Else
This common stomach bug can be easily mistaken for other medical problems.
Gastroenteritis is the second most common sickness in the United States.
Chances are, if youve had a bad bout of diarrhea or vomiting due to a virus, parasite, or bacteria, youve experienced gastroenteritis.
Doctors usually diagnose the condition based on your symptoms or the results of a stool test. That said, gastroenteritis can look like other medical conditions, and other illnesses may be mistaken for gastroenteritis.