how do you recognize the difference?

The causes of stomach flu and food poisoning are completely different. One is caused by a virus, while the other is caused by bacteria or their toxins.

Latest update: April 16, 2023

Food poisoning and stomach flu have some similarities, but also several differences which you should take into account. Different treatment is needed depending on the cause of the disease, which is why it is important to make a correct diagnosis.

We are going to show you the differences between the two conditions, not only in terms of their causes, but also their consequences and prognosis. Keep in mind that in many cases you need the advice of a doctor – otherwise the person’s health may be endangered.

What Causes Stomach Flu?

The viruses that cause stomach flu are very diverse, ranging from rotaviruses to some types of coronaviruses.

Stomach flu is usually caused by a virus that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, causing problems at the gastrointestinal level. It is common to experience vomiting, diarrhea and pain with this type of infectious disease.

It should be noted that it is an infectious disease that can be transmitted between people in close contact. It is transported by means of the microdroplets emitted when speaking. It is also possible to contract infection through the use of contaminated objects.

Various viruses can trigger the problem. Noroviruses often affect younger children, as do rotaviruses. This is the conclusion of a study published in the journal practice. However, in adults, astroviruses and adenoviruses are much more common. Some types of coronaviruses can also cause these processes.

Symptoms of stomach flu

Stomach flu usually causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. It’s coming however It is relatively common for these complaints to be accompanied by chills and fever in an attempt by the body to kill the virus that causes the disease. In addition, it is common for muscle pain to occur.

What should be closely monitored are the symptoms of dehydration. Sometimes the patient is unable to take in fluids without vomiting, and thus is prone to water deficiency. Keep in mind that dehydration can be seriously life-threatening, so keep an eye out for associated symptoms.

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What Causes Food Poisoning?

The doctor will ask about the food consumed to determine if there is a microbiological risk.

Unlike stomach flu, food poisoning is caused by a bacteria or protozoan. The origin is a microorganism or its toxin which irritates and upsets the mucous membranes of the digestive tract and in many situations causes a similar symptomatology to that described.

The most common poisoning is caused by bacteria of the genus Clostridium. The microorganism Salmonella however, is also very often responsible for this condition.

According to a study published in the journal prz eglad Epidemiologiczny the number of cases affected by this bacteria has increased in recent years. It is mainly found in meat and meat products.

Common symptoms

The symptoms of food poisoning are very similar to those of stomach flu in some cases. Diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and dehydration are common for. However, these usually don’t last that long, although that depends on the severity of the poisoning and the amount of bacteria or toxins ingested.

However, in some poisonings, other organs can also fail. The liver is usually the main organ affected. It especially suffers when mycotoxins are consumed from mushrooms. It has even been shown that these toxins can increase the risk of cancer and hepatitis.

When should you go to the doctor?

Whatever the cause of the discomfort, it is important to see a doctor if symptoms do not subside within 24 hours or if they worsen over time. This is also the case if you suffer from skin changes, headache or severe fever.

In addition, the specialist may offer solutions to contain the continuous vomiting in the form of intramuscularly injected drugs. These are usually very effective in helping the body begin to tolerate fluids and reduce the risk of dehydration.

If you experience loss of consciousness or severe pain, you (or someone else) should contact the emergency room immediately.

The symptoms of stomach flu and food poisoning usually don’t last more than 2 days. However, complications can arise at the digestive level, so you should keep an eye out for blood in the stool and see a doctor if it does.

How is the diagnosis made?

A fairly complete medical history is required to diagnose food poisoning or gastroenteritis. The specialist will ask about the food consumed in the past few hours to assess whether any of them may have a microbiological risk.

It will also be necessary to know whether a person in close contact is in the same situation. In general, diagnostic tests as such are not performed except in the most severe cases. A serology or culture of the stool can even be requested to find out exactly which microorganism is causing the damage.

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Recommended treatments

The recommended treatments, regardless of the cause of the pathology, will be aimed at seeking a remission of the symptoms and at preventing dehydration.

First of all, the volume of water will be gradually increased, as long as it does not cause nausea or a vomiting reflex. From this point on easily digestible solid food, such as white rice and chicken, be included in the diet. Products with a high fat or fiber content are reintroduced last.

In the most severe cases, it may be necessary to administer an antiemetic that reduces vomiting. Intravenous fluids can be administered even if signs of dehydration are present, although this is a matter for hospital management.

In the event of a viral problem a vitamin C supplement may be given to boost the immune system. If the disease is caused by bacteria or a toxin, some drugs may also be considered. These can block its effects or eliminate the pathogen. An example would be antibiotics in the most severe cases.

How can you prevent it?

Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding stomach flu and food poisoning. To prevent food poisoning, it is essential to ensure good hand hygiene and proper handling of food before and during consumption. Cold chain compliance and good storage practices will be essential.

Also, not maintaining close contact with those who have developed gastrointestinal symptoms can prevent you from contracting the disease caused by the virus, if this is the cause.

However, this is quite difficult to do because these microorganisms are usually highly contagious before symptoms appear in humans.

Stomach flu and food poisoning: two different problems with similar symptoms

As you have seen, stomach flu and food poisoning share some similarities in terms of the symptoms they produce. She become, however caused by various microorganisms. The proposed treatment for the most intense forms of the disease are thus also different.

The best thing is to go for prevention. You must ensure that hygiene measures are followed between people and when handling food. Once the first symptoms appear, it is important to know when to see a doctor and how to prevent dehydration. Perhaps also interesting for you

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