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stomach bug or food poisoning

Stomach Bug or Food Poisoning: Know the Difference

Nothing can put a kink in your plans faster than a sudden bout of intense gastric distress. Is that overwhelming urge to lose your lunch caused by a nasty bug that your kids caught at school, or could it be from the shady-looking burger you bought from a food truck? The symptoms of stomach flu and food poisoning are almost identical, but knowing how to spot the differences between them can help ensure that you manage your illness properly and get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Recognizing a Stomach Bug

Stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis is caused by a virus that is spread easily between humans. The virus attacks the intestines and causes severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, stomach ache, fever, weakness, headache and body aches that typically last one to three days. An incubation period of one or two days is typical, so you may not experience symptoms until several days after you’ve contracted the virus. If you’ve recently been around someone with similar gastric symptoms, the cause of your problem may be obvious.

When to Suspect Food Poisoning

Food poisoning occurs when you’ve eaten food that is contaminated by bacteria. A food item that’s under-cooked or improperly handled or stored is usually the culprit. The symptoms of food poisoning are similar to those experienced during stomach flu and can occur within hours after consuming the contaminated food. Fever, headache and body aches are less likely to occur with food poisoning. If two or more people who ate the same food develop sudden gastrointestinal symptoms, food poisoning is a likely suspect. You can avoid putting yourself at increased risk of food poisoning by following CDC Food Safety Guidelines and sticking to restaurants that consistently pass their safety inspections.

When to Seek Professional Medical Care

Although most cases of stomach flu and many cases of mild food poisoning resolve on their own, it’s important to seek medical treatment when serious signs and symptoms appear. If you experience the following, get help as soon as possible.

  • An inability to keep liquids down that persists for more than 24 hours
  • Vomiting or severe diarrhea that lasts more than two days
  • Visible blood in vomit or stool
  • Fever above 104 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Signs of dehydration such as extreme thirst, low urine output, weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Severe abdominal pain

Visit Prime Urgent Care for Diagnosis and Relief

It can be difficult to get a doctor’s appointment when symptoms strike suddenly. When you choose Prime Urgent Care in Pearland, you don’t need one. We can help you conquer your tummy troubles on the spot and ensure that you’re back to normal as soon as possible. Contact or call to speak to one of our nurses or learn more about our services.

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