Is It Food Poisoning or Stomach Flu?

Your stomach is cramping, and your belly feels queasy. Could it be the stomach flu or did you eat something bad? Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes. Both illnesses have similar symptoms and make you feel downright crummy.

Our doctors of AccuHealth Urgent Care want to help you figure out what may be causing your bellyache so you can treat it best. Before we talk about treatment, let’s discuss the causes and symptoms of both illnesses.

Stomach flu 101

The stomach flu is not the flu at all. The medical term for this illness is gastroenteritis. Its caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasite that causes swelling and irritation in the lining of the intestines. Viral gastroenteritis is the second most common illness in the United States.

Stomach flu spreads through bad food or water and contact with a person who already has the stomach flu. You can start to feel symptoms after 24-48 hours of coming into contact with the virus.

The symptoms of stomach flu may include:

While the stomach flu is uncomfortable, it usually goes away on its own within a couple of days. Sometimes, the symptoms can last up to ten days.

Treating stomach flu

Symptom control is the best way to deal with the stomach flu. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Gatorade or other drinks with electrolytes work best to avoid dehydration.

If you have a fever, you might take an over-the-counter fever reducer or try a cool cloth or bath. Once you start feeling a bit better, you can start slowly increasing your food intake. It’s best to start with bland foods and continue drinking plenty of fluids.

Food poisoning 101

Roughly 48 million people get food poisoning each year in the US. It happens after you consume bad food or water. You may start to have symptoms within a few hours or as long as a few days after eating or drinking the contaminated food.

Food poisoning is often caused by germs like E. coli, listeria, salmonella, or norovirus. While it can happen to anyone, children and older adults are at a higher risk of getting food poisoning.

The symptoms of food poisoning include:

Treating food poisoning

No treatment will reverse the symptoms of food poisoning. Most of the time, it will go away in a few days on its own.

While you have food poisoning, treating the symptoms is best. Your body can dehydrate quickly if you have severe vomiting, diarrhea, or both. Drink plenty of fluids, if you can keep them down. If you have a fever, try an over-the-counter fever reducer or a cool bath to control the high temperature.

When to seek medical care

Most cases of the stomach flu and many cases of mild food poisoning will resolve on their own. However, there are times when you need to seek medical attention.

Come see our team of highly skilled doctors and nurses at AccuHealth Urgent care if you have any of the following:

The doctors and staff at AccuHealth Urgent Care are available seven days a week, even when your doctor’s office may be busy or closed. If you need to see a provider right away, book an appointment online or just walk in.

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