It may start as a rumble in the stomach, then sickness and pain in the abdomen. It is when people start to wonder whether it is stomach flu or food poisoning. The similar symptoms between the two make them confusing. We found it necessary to compare stomach flu vs. food poisoning to understand the two better.
Keep reading to learn more about the two.
Food poisoning only happens when you ingest contaminated food. Viruses, bacteria or other less common parasites may enter the body and cause symptoms of gastroenteritis. Unhygienically prepared food, spoilt food, or any contaminated food provides a way for the parasites to enter the body.
On the other hand, Stomach virus/flu is a viral infection that attacks the digestive system. It is also known as viral gastroenteritis. There are several types of viruses. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has revealed that the most common virus that causes stomach flu is Norovirus.
Cross-contamination, where harmful organisms transfer from one surface to another, is the major cause of food poisoning. Ready-to-eat foods such as salads plus uncooked food are at a greater risk of contamination.
The rapid growth of bacteria can be in a range of foods. This happens when foods like meats, sauces, and dairy products are not kept at the right temperatures. Together with other harmful organisms, bacteria produce substances that can cause intestinal inflammation when eaten.
Poorly cooked or not properly handled raw meat also provides room for contamination.
The two most common types of bacteria linked to food poisoning are E. Coli and Salmonella.
It is highly contagious; therefore, it can spread very quickly. People become contagious immediately after infection and remain so in the first few days after recovering.
A stomach virus can spread through the following methods;
Still on stomach flu vs. food poisoning, sometimes the symptoms can be similar; however, there are some differences. We list some of the common symptoms of the two to help in further telling them apart.
The symptoms will start to show within hours of eating contaminated food. They include;
People can start suspecting the disease if they have eaten unrefrigerated food or when other people who ate the same food show similar symptoms.
The high-risk foods for food poisoning are salads, eggs, seafood, raw poultry, and other dairy-based products.
The symptoms of the virus include;
These symptoms last between 3 to 14 days. Bloody stools could be a sign of a more serious infection rather than stomach flu. So, get it checked further just to be sure.
There is no recognized method for diagnosing stomach flu, but the doctor will base it on the symptoms.
A rapid stool test can detect rotavirus or norovirus. Such a test is available in many clinics. The other viruses do not have quick tests. Stool samples can be used to rule out infection by bacteria or parasites.
Food poisoning diagnosis can be difficult if you cannot identify the exact cause. Stools may be used to identify the disease-causing pathogen.
The treatment depends on the harmful organism causing the infection.
For viral infection, there is use of supportive therapy. The therapy includes increased hydration, electrolyte replenishment, and fever medication. This is because viruses do not respond to antibiotics and just need to be allowed to run their course.
Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infections like ones caused by Salmonella. Anti-parasitic medication is used for parasites.
Here are some important steps to follow at home in case of food poisoning or stomach flu.
Do not take over-the-counter medications unless advised by a doctor. This is because it can worsen the infection. Sometimes anti-diarrhea medications make cases worse.
If you experience the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
In some countries, there are vaccines to prevent stomach viruses. They help to prevent severe symptoms of stomach virus in children.
Stomach flu vs. food poisoning no longer has to be confusing after going through the guide above. Now that you know the difference between the two, it would be better to take the right steps to treat either condition.
Prevention is better than a cure when eating your favorite Washington restaurant or at home. The trauma and threat to your life with food poisoning or stomach flu is not worth it. Take care of yourself.
Proper hygiene is essential not just for stomach flu but other types of related conditions. You will have to visit the doctor less often if you can keep your hygiene to the best standards.