The Difference Between Seasonal Flu and Stomach Flu

Fever, chills, sore throat — these are all signs of the flu. However, what if you experience nausea and vomiting? Most people typically assume that the flu (or influenza) and the stomach flu are the same thing and therefore can be treated the same way. In fact, they are quite different. Here’s what you should know:


When your doctor diagnoses you with the flu, they mean that you have the influenza virus. The flu circulates through the fall, winter, and early spring months. The most common symptoms of the flu are:

  • Fever

  • Body aches

  • Fatigue

  • Congestion

  • Cough and sore throat

The flu can be passed from person to person by coming in contact with someone who is ill. Through coughing, sneezing, or talking, people up to 6 feet away can pass along the virus to their family, friends, and peers. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, you may be able to continue your daily activities with the flu. When combined with pneumonia, the flu can prove deadly — this is one of the top causes of death in the United States.

Treating the Flu

Typically, flu symptoms will subside in 2 to 10 days and do not require emergency medical attention. In fact, no antibiotic can aid in recovering from the flu, as they do not work on viruses. If you seek medical attention within 48 hours of contracting the flu, antiviral medication may be effective in easing your symptoms.

If you do develop a secondary infection, or your symptoms worsen, you should seek medical attention. Otherwise, the best way to recover from the flu is to get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and take pain relievers for any aching, in addition to keeping your fever down.

Stomach Virus

In contrast, the stomach virus is a much different illness than seasonal flu. The stomach virus is usually caused by the norovirus or rotavirus. Both of these are food-borne bacteria. The most common symptoms of the stomach virus are:

You can come in contact with the norovirus from another person that has been infected, or from bacteria in food directly.

Treating the Stomach Virus

Also known as gastroenteritis, the stomach virus should typically subside in 24 hours. Though it is possible for individuals suffering from the flu to experience nausea and vomiting, those symptoms are most common with the stomach virus. Food-borne bacteria from discrepancies in food preparation cause individuals to become ill up to 48 hours after their meal.

The best medicine for the stomach virus and the flu is plenty of rest and fluids. If you believe your symptoms are not improving, seek medical attention immediately. At Urgentology Care, we’re prepared to treat your condition every day of the week. Stop in for a walk-in appointment, or contact us today.

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