Do I Have Food Poisoning or Stomach Flu?

person holding stomach in pain

It's the middle of the night, and something doesn't feel right. Could it be last night's dinner not agreeing with you? Or is it something more?

Certain illnesses, like the stomach flu and food poisoning, often have very similar symptoms, making it difficult to self-diagnose. Let's take a closer look at these two stomach-troubling issues.

What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is a sickness that's caused by eating food that's contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or toxins. The symptoms of food poisoning can start anywhere from minutes to days after you eat the bad food.

The most common symptoms of food poisoning are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Headache

These symptoms can last from a few hours to several days. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to hospitalization.

Preventing Food Poisoning

The best way to prevent food poisoning is by practicing food safety. This means cooking your food properly, storing it safely, and avoiding cross-contamination.

Here are some tips for preventing food poisoning:

  • Cook meats thoroughly and use a meat thermometer to check that they've reached a safe internal temperature.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly, especially when handling raw meat.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat separate from other food.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them.

What is the Stomach Flu?

The stomach flu, also called viral gastroenteritis, is an infection of the stomach and intestines caused by a virus. Common viruses that cause the stomach flu include Norovirus, Rotavirus, Adenovirus, and Astrovirus.

The most common symptoms of the stomach flu are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

These symptoms can last for one to three days. In severe cases, the stomach flu can lead to dehydration. Unlike food poisoning, stomach flu is contagious.

Preventing the Stomach Flu

The best way to prevent stomach flu is by practicing good hygiene and sanitation. This means washing your hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated.

Here are some tips for preventing stomach flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling food.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work, school, and daycare.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated.

Treating Food Poisoning and Stomach Flu

The best way to treat food poisoning and stomach flu is by letting your body rest and recuperate. Drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, and avoid dairy, caffeine, and alcohol.

Our team can help you manage your symptoms through an IV to replenish fluids and antibiotics for those with serious bacterial infections.

The Urgentology Care team is here to keep the whole family feeling happy and healthy. Visit or contact us today.

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