Almost everyone has experienced abdominal pain either as a result of stomach flu or food poisoning. However, although we tend to confuse both of these situations, the two are different in how they spread. Knowing the difference between a stomach bug and food poisoning is critical in the diagnosis and treatment.
Yes, both stomach flu and food poisoning cause abdominal pain, but they are triggered by different organisms. A stomach bug is caused by a virus (norovirus) and is highly contagious—you become contagious as soon as you begin to have the symptoms and also a few days after you recover.
The stomach bug spreads through eating contaminated foods or having direct contact with an infected person or a surface.
Food poisoning, on the other hand, is mostly caused by bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. Ready-to-eat foods like salads and uncooked foods are the main culprits of food poisoning.
Bacteria grow rapidly in foods like dairy and meat products and not cooking your meat properly can you get you infected.
Stomach flu and food poisoning have similar symptoms, making them hard to distinguish.
Stomach virus symptoms occur within 24 hours after contact and they include:
These stomach bug symptoms last between three and 14 days depending on severity. However, if you have uncontrolled vomiting for more than four hours, you should visit an emergency room near you.
Food poisoning symptoms appear within hours after consumption of the contaminated food and the symptoms include:
The treatment for stomach flu and food poisoning is different. Because the stomach bug is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not work. However, the doctor may recommend rest, hydration, electrolytes, and fever medication.
For food poisoning, you may take antibiotics if bacteria are the cause of the infection, but home remedies can also help:
Be cautious about taking over-the-counter medications unless advised by the doctor because some can make the situation worse.
The stomach bug will clear within a few days even without medication. However, visit the nearest emergency room if you experience bloody stool or vomiting, high fever of 104 F, severe abdominal pain and dizziness.
A stomach virus is the most common infection affecting about 21 million people every year. The good news is, it is preventable and here are a few guidelines:
When it comes to food poisoning, you can easily prevent it by avoiding raw or uncooked food such as salads and eggs. Plus, wash your hands before handling raw meat and ensure it cooks thoroughly to get rid of the bacteria.
Both food poisoning and stomach virus can resolve within a few days and with proper hygiene, you can prevent a reoccurrence. But, if the symptoms worsen and you develop fever and bloody stool, don’t hesitate to come to Express ER in Temple for treatment. We have a 24-hour emergency room equipped to cater to different emergencies.