Stomach Flu vs Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning

It is taxing when you have a stomach problem, more so, when you feel extreme nausea and your stomach seems to be doing flip flops. You do not know how to handle this as you are not sure what this is. This can be either food poisoning or probably, the stomach flu. It is difficult to identify what this is as the symptoms are almost similar.

Stomach flu is when a virus attacks the intestines and the stomach and food poisoning is when you eat food that contains some germs like viruses, bacteria, or even parasites.

Most often, both, the stomach flu or food poisoning do not require you to visit the doctor. For reducing the symptoms and getting some relief you can take the OTC drugs.

What is Stomach Flu?

This stomach flu is also termed as ‘viral gastroenteritis’. The symptoms include fever, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps or pain, and also diarrhea.

The virus causing this flu lasts anywhere between 12 hours to 60 hours.

What is Food Poisoning?

As compared to the stomach flu, food poisoning is more common. This is a disease that is food-borne. The symptoms of food poisoning include pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or cramping, and also diarrhea.

Food poisoning can occur not only due to viruses or bacteria but also due to allergy and over-eating.

The Spread of the Stomach Flu

The stomach flu is contagious and spreads from person to person. This is normally from the particles that are airborne, from the vomit containing the virus. The most common foods that can lead to outbreaks of the stomach flu are shellfish, fruits, and leafy greens.

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This also spreads when you consume food or water that is contaminated. This virus can resist temperatures that are freezing, disinfection with alcohol or chlorine or heat up to 140 degrees.

How you can get Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is not contagious like the stomach flu. The germs can attach to the foods in different ways, like a sick person cooking food can infect the food and this can lead to food poisoning. If food is not cooked or even washed well there are chances of food poisoning.

Risk Factors

Eating out or even at weddings and birthdays where the food is catered for, can lead to food poisoning. The stomach flu spreads in closed communities, like nursing homes, daycare centers or probably, cruise ships.

People who have a weak immune system are prone to both, the stomach flu and food poisoning.

The aged or very small children can get dehydrated easily with both these conditions. This is due to the loss of fluid from the body.

Managing Stomach Flu

Managing the stomach flu can make this tolerable. Here are few tips to follow to get some relief.

  1. Make sure you rest enough and allow the flu to run the course.
  2. Have OTC drugs for fever or pain.
  3. If you can tolerate dairy products, consume fat-free yogurt.

Foods to Relieve Symptoms

It is important to consume a lot of water and other fluids so that you do not get dehydrated. If you find it is difficult to keep fluids down you can suck on ice chips. Go for the BRAT diet. This includes banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are binding and bland.

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Caffeine or tea can also replenish lost fluids. For calming the stomach you can decide on the peppermint flavor.

Symptoms of Stomach Flu

With stomach flu, the symptoms appear within a span of 48 hours. This includes vomiting and nausea. Some people also develop stomach pain, fever, fatigue, and headaches. This tends to resolve within a few days.

The symptoms of food poisoning are similar and appear after consuming infected food within a couple of hours.

Checking with the Doctor

Patients suffering from food poisoning or stomach flu need to consult a doctor if they are dehydrated, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, loss of weight, severe stomach pain or even if the symptoms last for more than a week.

You also need to consult a doctor if you are more than 65 years of age, or are pregnant.

As mentioned, food poisoning and also stomach flu are self-limiting and temporary and generally, resolve after a week or so. Complications due to this stomach flu or even food poisoning are normally due to pre-existing conditions.

The best way to prevent stomach flu is to ensure good hand hygiene and stay away from people who are suffering from this flu. You need to be aware that good hygiene for the hands can also help in preventing food poisoning.

Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before storing or even cooking. You need to avoid milk that is unpasteurized or even the food that is cooked with this.