Cramping is a common symptom of both food poisoning & stomach flu but the severity and duration differ
Food poisoning and stomach flu, also known as viral gastroenteritis, are both gastrointestinal illnesses that can cause similar symptoms. However, they are different in terms of causes and treatment.
Food poisoning is usually caused by consuming contaminated food or water. It can be caused by bacteria (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli), viruses (e.g., Norovirus, Hepatitis A), parasites, or toxins. Stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis) on the other hand is mainly caused by viruses, especially norovirus, rotavirus, and adenovirus. It spreads through contact with infected individuals, contaminated surfaces, or consuming contaminated food or water.
It is worth noting that food poisoning is primarily caused by consumption of contaminated food, while stomach flu is caused by viral infections. However, the symptoms and duration can overlap, making it challenging to differentiate without proper diagnosis or laboratory testing. If symptoms are severe or persist, medical attention should be sought.
Differentiating between food poisoning and stomach flu can be challenging as both conditions have similar symptoms. However, here are some signs that may help you distinguish between the two.
9 Signs that can help differentiate between food poisoning and stomach flu:
1. Onset of symptoms
Food poisoning symptoms usually occur within a few hours after consuming contaminated food, whereas stomach flu symptoms may take a bit longer, typically within 12 to 48 hours.
2. Source of illness
If multiple people who ate the same food experience symptoms, it is more likely to be food poisoning. Stomach flu, on the other hand, can spread through close contact with an infected person.
Vomiting is more common with stomach flu than with food poisoning. If vomiting is persistent and occurs frequently, it may be indicative of stomach flu.
Both conditions commonly cause diarrhoea. However, food poisoning often results in more severe and immediate diarrhoea, while stomach flu may have a gradual onset of milder diarrhoea.
Stomach flu typically presents with a fever, whereas food poisoning may or may not be accompanied by a fever. A fever is more likely a sign of stomach flu.
6. Abdominal cramps
Cramping is a common symptom of both food poisoning and stomach flu, but the severity and duration may differ. Food poisoning may cause intense cramps for a shorter duration, while stomach flu cramps might be more persistent but less severe.
7. Duration of illness
Food poisoning often resolves within 24 to 48 hours, while stomach flu may last for a few days to a week. If symptoms persist longer, it could indicate a stomach flu.
8. Blood in stool
While rare, blood in the stool is more likely to be associated with food poisoning. Seek immediate medical attention if blood is present in your stool.
Both food poisoning and stomach flu can cause dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhoea. Fluid loss needs to be managed by drinking plenty of fluids, especially with electrolyte solutions.
If symptoms worsen, persist for an extended period, or if you are unsure about the cause of your illness, it is always wise to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and management.
Remember, these signs are not definitive, and it is always best to seek professional medical advice for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.