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Often confused as the same, viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning both manifest in the stomach but have different causes. The confusion stems from the appearance of similar symptoms. It’s important to know what foods to avoid if you’re suffering from food poisoning or stomach flu. Learn more about viral food poisoning and the stomach flu.
Understanding of Viral Food Poisoning or Stomach Flu
Viral Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)
is commonly known as stomach flu and characterised by inflammation of the intestines. As the name implies, it is primarily an infection caused by a virus, may be rotavirus, astrovirus, enteric adenovirus or norovirus. It spreads through contaminated food or human contact.
Also Read: 10 Instant Home Remedies For Gastric Problem
Viral Food Poisoning
Occur by infectious organisms like toxins, bacteria, or parasites in food and water. Ingestion of contaminated food or water is the main cause of food poisoning. It is never caused by human contact.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning or Viral Stomach Flu
Both viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning have almost similar symptoms. In the case of viral gastroenteritis, symptoms appear several days after ingestion and last for one to three days. For food poisoning, symptoms develop with few hours and are more aggressive than viral gastroenteritis. Symptoms of Viral Food Poisoning or gastroenteritis are given below:
- Abdominal cramps
- Loss of appetite
Viral gastroenteritis is also accompanied by chills, headache and muscle ache. These are the differentiating symptoms from food poisoning. It is very hard to accurately tell the difference yourself. So if you experience any of these symptoms for more than a day, it is advisable to immediately contact you, medical practitioner. Doctors diagnose using stool or blood sample.
Also Read: What to eat when you have a diarrhea?
Treatment for Viral Gastroenteritis & Food Poisoning
The treatment is also similar for both viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning. If the symptoms are severe, doctors prescribe antibiotics. Otherwise following are recommended for relief:
- Plenty of rest
- Modifications in diet with more of fluids
- Fluid replacement therapy to maintain electrolyte balance
- Avoid dairy products, caffeine (tea/coffee), spicy, fatty and fried foods.
- Limit intake of fibres like vegetables and fruits except for banana
If left untreated and uncared, both can lead to dehydration. If you cite any of the followings then get a prompt medical attention:
- Continued vomiting
- Excessive diarrhoea (more than 4 times a day)
- Blood in vomit or stool
- Excessive dehydration manifesting as dry mouth, dizziness, rapid breathing or weakness
- High fever that goes up to 101oC
Certain strains of bacteria causing food poisoning may lead to kidney failure if not treated properly. Pay particular attention to these conditions in babies, children and elderly because they are prone to dehydration.
Here are certain things you can bear in mind to prevent the viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning:
- Washing hands frequently especially before eating any food.
- Avoid sharing food, utensils and personal care items.
- Disinfect cooking areas.
- Wash food items thoroughly.
- Cook food to safe temperatures.
- Don’t keep leftovers for very long.
- Avoid eating at unhygienic places.