Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning: How To Differentiate


It could be tough to inform whether you have stomach flu vs food poisoning when you are feeling unwell in your stomach. But stomach flu and food poisoning have completely distinctive causes. This is because they share likewise symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea.

Stomach flu (stomach bug, viral gastroenteritis) is a nonspecific term that could consist of food poisoning; however, the stomach virus is generally viral for a few days.

Food poisoning happens when you eat contaminated food with bacteria, viruses, or parasites, while the stomach flu is generally due to contact with certain viruses. These ailments can commonly be dealt with at home; however, they may also seek medical attention if symptoms emerge as severe or dehydration.

Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning

The differences between Stomach flu vs Food poisoning are:

Stomach Flu

Stomach flu vs food poisoning: How to differentiate
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Stomach flu is quite contagious and might spread quickly. People infected with the stomach virus are contagious from the instant they start feeling sick and additionally for the first few days when they recover.

Stomach flu can spread in numerous distinctive ways:

  • Eating meals or drinking liquids which have been contaminated with the virus
  • Having direct or indirect mouth contact with an inflamed person or surface with the virus on it
  • The virus additionally inhabits the vomit and stools of humans who have the infection.

Food Poisoning

Stomach flu vs food poisoning: How to differentiate
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Cross-contamination is often the cause of food poisoning, throughout which harmful organisms transfer from one surface to another. Uncooked and ready-to-consume foods, including salads, are mainly at risk of infection.

Bacteria can develop rapidly when various foods, including meats, dairy products, and sauces, aren’t kept at the proper temperature. Bacteria and other harmful organisms produce poisonous materials that may cause inflammation of the intestines when eaten.

Symptoms Of Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning

Stomach Flu Symptoms

Stomach flu vs food poisoning: How to differentiate
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  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting stomach cramps.
  • Fever.
  • Diarrhea.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms of food poisoning can arise within hours of eating. People may also experience:

  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache and cramping
  • A fever, chills, and muscle aches
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness from dehydration

What Causes The Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning?

When it involves viruses, norovirus is the most common cause of foodborne illness. It usually hangs out in items like raw, ready-to-consume produce; shellfish; and contaminated water.

On the bacterial side, food poisoning can be prompted by salmonella, listeria, shigella, campylobacter, and E. coli. These can display in something from hot dogs, milk, egg yolks, alfalfa sprouts, meat, poultry, and beyond.

Food contamination can occur at any point, whether through the soil as it’s grown, in a storage facility, or on your countertop while you leave food out for too long. You may get food poisoning if a person with these illness-inducing microorganisms in their system handles your meals or utensils.

Contaminated Food That Can Cause Food Poisoning

Raw meals of animal origin are most likely to be infected, especially raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or lightly cooked eggs, unpasteurized milk, and raw shellfish.

Fruits and veggies may also get contaminated. While certain ingredients are more likely to make you sick, any food can get infected in the field, throughout processing, or during meal production stages, including cross-contamination with raw meat in kitchens.

Prevention For The Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning

Prevent Food Poisoning

You can lessen your danger of foodborne infection by practicing food safety. Pregnant ladies and others with a higher danger of food poisoning have to be mainly cautious when handling and eating meals.

Food safety practices include:

1.) Staying Clean

Wash your hands, cutting boards, and surfaces often. Rinse fruits and veggies under water before eating.

2.) Avoiding Cross-Contamination

Use separate cutting boards and keep raw meat, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods. If you’re making a salad, make it and put it into the fridge earlier than you touch any form of raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs. Don’t rinse raw poultry underwater because you may spread germs to different surfaces.

3.) Cooking Thoroughly

Make sure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature, which varies depending upon the kind of meals you’re cooking.

4.) Chilling Meals

Keep your fridge under forty degrees Fahrenheit, and refrigerate or freeze prepared meals within 2 hours. Thaw food in the fridge or microwave, by no means on the counter.

5.) Making Good Choices

Avoid unpasteurized cheese and milk, additionally referred to as raw milk. Don’t consume meals that appear or smell rotten, and toss out expired meals.

Prevention For The Stomach Flu

The stomach flu could be very contagious and without difficulty transmitted. An individual can be contagious before signs and symptoms appear and for days after signs have stopped. Germs can stay in your stool for 2 weeks, so you may need to take greater hygiene precautions.

  • Wash your hands daily and properly with soap and water.
  • Keep your hands away from your mouth and keep away from shaking hands throughout known virus outbreaks.
  • Handle and prepare meals safely.
  • Clean and disinfect common surfaces.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly.
  • Stay home and away from other human beings when ill.

Treatment Options For Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning

Treating A Stomach Flu

You could deal with your stomach flu signs and symptoms at home most of the time. The great treatment is simply to permit yourself to relax and recover from the virus. However, if signs and symptoms persist for more than a few days, you may need to seek medical attention.

Drink lots of fluids. Adults can drink sports drinks with electrolytes, and kids can also drink fluid replacement solutions, including Pedialyte. These liquids, coupled with water, will assist restore the body’s hydration balance. For fine results, drink a few sips each half-hour to an hour.

Limit sugary drinks or sodas, as those drinks don’t replace lost electrolytes. Coconut water is a brilliant natural source of electrolytes as well, plus it’s a lot lower on sugar.

Treating A Food Poisoning

  • You have to contact your medical doctor in case you experience any of the following:
  • blood or pus to your stool
  • diarrhea lasting more than three days
  • fever above 102°F (38.8°C) in adults or above 101°F (38.3°C) in youngsters
  • signs and symptoms of dehydration, which include fatigue and excessive thirst
  • signs and symptoms of botulism
  • signs and symptoms of stomach pain.

If you have a slight case of food poisoning, it can respond well to rest and fever-lowering medications. If you have severe symptoms, you may need to be admitted to the hospital for intravenous fluid hydration. If you have excessive bacterial food poisoning, your medical doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.

How Long Does Stomach Flu vs Food Poisoning Last?

Depending on the cause of food poisoning, the period of the majority of food poisoning generally ranges from a few hours after exposure to infected meals or fluid to numerous days.

Stomach Flu caused by viruses may also ultimate one to two days. However, a few bacterial instances can continue for months.

Diagnosis of Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning

Diagnosis of Stomach Flu

Most human beings are inflamed with stomach viruses that cause gastroenteritis because they are very contagious and spread easily. It does not always warrant a trip to your healthcare provider’s office; however, if it does, your appointment will include:

An assessment of your symptoms:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Recent whereabouts, as you are more likely to agree on the contamination in crowded places like daycares or cruise ships.

Diagnosis of Food Poisoning

For food poisoning, many human beings do not seek hospital treatment and expect it is food poisoning if they are aware of another individual getting ill from the same food or drink source.

But in case you do see a healthcare provider for a food poisoning diagnosis, you may expect:

A review of your symptoms:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination

Probiotics And Gastroenteritis

Probiotics (live “good” bacteria and yeasts) will also be beneficial in treating gastroenteritis, consistent with a few newer research. One study discovered that using probiotics in children hospitalized for acute gastroenteritis shortened their health center life by 1.12 days.

Specifically, there may be a few proofs to support using the subsequent strains of beneficial bacteria in the treatment of gastroenteritis in children, along with using oral rehydration solutions without dietary restriction:

Bacteria And Viruses For Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning

There are bacteria and viruses which might be the most common culprits of food poisoning:

1.) Campylobacter

This is usually discovered in unpasteurized milk, poultry, shellfish, and infected water. Its primary symptom is diarrhea, and it generally lasts between 2-10 days.

2.) Clostridium Perfringens

This bacteria is common in beef, poultry, gravy, and other meals; this is left too long at room temperature or warmer. It causes diarrhea and belly cramps; however, it usually has no fever or vomiting and only lasts 24-hours or less.

3.) E. Coli

E. Coli may be found in undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized milk and juice, soft cheeses, raw fruits and vegetables, contaminated water (it may be transmitted from drinking it or swimming in it), animals which include cows, sheep, and goats, and the feces of infected people. E. Coli signs and symptoms consist of excessive diarrhea that can be bloody, severe stomach aches, and vomiting, generally with no fever, and can last for 5-10 days

4.) Norovirus

As discussed above, norovirus is a cause of the stomach flu; however, because it may be transmitted through meals, it’s also a cause of meal poisoning. Norovirus may be found in produce, shellfish, ready-to-eat meals dealt with through infected people, or any meals that have been infected through an infected person’s vomit or feces. Symptoms consist of watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and bellyache and last for 1-3 days.

5.) Listeria

Listeria is discovered in unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, raw fruits and vegetables, deli meats, warm dogs, pates, meat spreads, and smoked seafood. In most cases, listeria causes fever and diarrhea and might be mistaken for different sorts of food poisoning without problems.

But if the bacteria spreads outdoor of the gut, it may become invasive listeriosis and causes fever, fatigue, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusion, lack of balance, and convulsions. Listeria is particularly risky for pregnant women, so if you are pregnant and have these signs and symptoms, you must seek emergency care immediately.

Stomach Flu

Some distinctive viruses cause the stomach flu, with the most common being norovirus and rotavirus.

1.) Norovirus

Norovirus is the main purpose of gastroenteritis, with as many as 21 million. It is extraordinarily contagious, and contact with a minuscule quantity of the virus is sufficient to make someone sick. Because it could continue to be on surfaces and be resistant to cleaning products, norovirus spreads rapidly in places like schools, cruise ships, nursing homes, and anywhere there are numerous people close to each other.

2.) Rotavirus

Rotavirus is more common in children and is easily passed from one child to another if they put their hands or toys contaminated with the virus in their mouths. The virus may be discovered in an infected person’s stool some days earlier than they display any signs and symptoms and up to ten days after the symptoms stop. The virus is without problems transmitted through hand-to-mouth contact during all of that time.

When To See A Doctor For Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning

When To See A Doctor in Food Poisoning

In most people with mild to moderate signs and symptoms of food poisoning (viral and bacterial), symptoms resolve in approximately 24 to 48 hours, and no particular medical treatment is needed.

However, if there are any symptoms of dehydration (reduced or no urination, dry mouth, increased thirst, dizziness, and weakness), blood in the stools, fever, vomiting, or diarrhea longer than seventy-two hours, medical care should be sought. If there’s any reason to suspect that a rare cause of food poisoning is inflicting signs and symptoms described above, see a doctor.

When To See A Doctor For Stomach Flu

Most frequently, gastroenteritis is self-limiting; however, it may cause significant issues with dehydration. Should that be a concern, contacting a primary care expert is reasonable?

Vomiting blood or having bloody or black bowel movements aren’t normal, and emergency care must be sought. Some medicines, which include iron or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), can turn stool black in color, and looking for hospital treatment must be considered.

Conclusion Of Stomach Flu Vs Food Poisoning

While many signs of the stomach flu and food poisoning are comparable, it’s essential to decide which illness you can have.

The symptoms of food poisoning:

  • Occur more quickly after exposure
  • It becomes more intense than signs of the stomach flu
  • Be shorter in duration than signs of a stomach flu

Depending on the cause, your immune system function, and your overall health, stomach flu vs food poisoning may also become extreme enough to require medical attention.

However, many humans can generally manage either condition with rest, hydration, and at-home medical treatment.

If you’re uncertain about what’s inflicting your signs, check in with your medical doctor to be safe. Other health problems can cause similar signs of gastrointestinal distress. In any case, call your medical doctor for assistance in case your signs and symptoms worsen.

Also, read this article What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dehydration And How To Prevent It?


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Do note that any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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