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Difference Between Stomach flu and Gall bladder attack


Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, queasiness, pain in the abdomen or lack of appetite occur due to dysfunction in the gastrointestinal system. Apart from stomach, Gall bladder infection or stone is an important cause of such symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms overlap and it may be difficult to diagnose a gall bladder condition. Let us understand the difference between the two.

Stomach flu:

This is also known as gastroenteritis. It is usually caused by consuming food contaminated by microbial organisms like bacteria, virus or parasites. These organisms gain entry into the digestive system of human beings and cause irritation and inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach and the intestines.

The person with stomach flu may complain of abdominal cramps, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting diarrhoea, fever, swelling of lymph glands, headache and dehydration. In some cases the dehydration can be severe enough to be life threatening.

The common bacteria that cause stomach flu are E.coli, salmonella, shigella and campylobacter. Viruses causing stomach flu include norovirus, rotavirus and calicivirus.

The main cause of stomach flu is lack of hygiene. Cooking food in unclean vessels, consuming unhygienic food, not covering food, not washing hands before cooking or eating, not drinking clean water, not washing hands properly after changing dirty diapers etc. are the common causes of stomach infection. It is a highly contagious disease which can spread through contact with unclean hands. The condition commonly affects people who consume roadside food, pregnant women, infants, undernourished children, immunocompromised adults and elderly people.

The condition is generally self-limiting. The patient is advised to drink a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration. He is also given antibiotics to fight the infection. In very severe cases medical attention is required. If there is blood in stools or vomit, severe dehydration (indicated by dry mouth, wrinkled skin, not passing urine adequately), high grade fever (more than 101 degree F), abdominal swelling, pain in the right lower part of the abdomen or vomiting lasting more than 48 hours usually requires immediate medical attention.

Gall Bladder:

Gall bladder is a small pouch that lies under the liver on the right side in the human body. It produces bile that is required for digestion of fats and fatty acids present in the food. The bile is carried through the bile duct and emptied into the small intestine.

There are instances when the flow of bile is obstructed due to presence of gall bladder stones (cholelithiasis). This results in a build-up of bile within the gall bladder causing discomfort. At times the gall bladder can get inflamed due to infection resulting in Choleycystitis.  Gall bladder function is also compromised in chronic alcoholics. Thyroid function also affects gall bladder functioning. Gall bladder tumour can also precipitate an attack in extremely rare cases.

The patient usually presents with typical pain pattern in which the pain radiates to the right side of the chest, right shoulder blade or in the back between the two shoulder blades. This is characteristic of gall bladder attack. Pain can be dull constant or spasmodic and can stay for 1-2hours. This is known as biliary colic. During a gall bladder attack the patient is unable to eat anything. The gall bladder attack can be frequent or may occur after a gap of several years. The patient may also complain of clay coloured stools, nausea, vomiting, heart burn, abdominal fullness especially after eating a fatty meal. Increase in bilirubin levels may result in symptoms of jaundice.

Patients known to have a gall bladder attack must watch their diet. Diet should have less fats and more fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water to flush out the stones.

Gall bladder attack is generally severe as compared to stomach flu and requires immediate medical attention

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1 Comment

  1. My belly hurts alot.

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