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Difference Between Stomach Flu and Food Poisoning

food_poison_bookStomach Flu vs. Food Poisoning

Stomach flu is also known as gastroenteritis. The cause of it is infection with virus. Different viruses are involved in causing this infection. Few are norovirus, rota virus, adeno virus. It results due to improper cleaning habits.
On the other hand, food poisoning is sometimes called as traveler’s diarrhea in few places. The infection may also include bacteria, parasites and other toxic agents. Common bacteria involved are campylobacter, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, bacillus cereus, and Escherichia coli. Viruses that are commonly involved are hepatitis ‘“A and rota virus. Toxic agents include pesticides on fruits and vegetables, improperly cooked food, poisonous mushrooms and others. It can result from eating contaminated foods and water that are not prepared properly.

The symptoms of stomach flu last for about 1- 2 days and in few cases up to 7 days depending on the virus involved. The symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, headache, and fever. The nature of stools determines the type of infection.

The symptoms of food poisoning appear as early as about 30 minutes after the consumption of food. The symptoms are the same as stomach flu but they last for a longer time and is more severe. In Food poisoning, patients may be hospitalized and various complications can occur and this is life-threatening as well. The symptoms of stomach flu are not that serious as that of food poisoning. These patients may not need hospitalization.

The treatment of stomach flu includes oral fluid replacement as there may be large amount of fluid loss. Oral re hydration solutions should be given. Drugs like antibiotics are often given. It should be taken only if prescribed by doctors.

The treatment of food poisoning includes avoidance of solid foods, oral fluids to prevent the patient from dehydration, avoidance of caffeinated and sugar drinks and alcohol.

Medications should be taken only if prescribed by doctors.


1. Stomach flu is caused by virus whereas food poisoning is caused by virus, bacteria, toxic food items and parasites.
2. Stomach flu is also called gastroenteritis while food poisoning is also called as traveler’s  diarrhea.
3. The symptoms of food poisoning are more severe than the stomach flu.
4. Complications like death can occur from food poisoning whereas stomach flu is not that dangerous.
5. Food poisoning lasts for a longer duration than the stomach flu.

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