Though food poisoning and stomach flu are two different illnesses, it is very difficult to find out which out of the two illnesses a person is actually suffering from. While both occur due to different causes, people often confuse the two to be similar due to their symptoms. Both food poisoning and stomach flu affect the digestive system of a person and have parallel symptoms which includes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and in some cases, lightheadedness and dizziness due to dehydration. The illnesses are also known to completely drain away the energy of a person. Read on further to know the differences between food poisoning and stomach flu.
A common stomach ailment, food poisoning is caused due to a toxin produced by bacteria in the food that is not cooked or stored properly. Also known as botulism or traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning is the outcome of contaminated food and is hazardous, most of the times. Other possible causes of food poisoning include toxic agents present in vegetables and fruits, poisonous mushrooms, infective agents such as bacteria, virus and parasites. Contaminated food due to unhygienic preparation also causes food poisoning in humans. Common symptoms include vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, diarrhea, low grade fever.
Medically known as virus gastroenteritis, stomach flu is the irritation of the stomach and intestine. This ailment occurs mainly due to viral infected food. The common symptoms of stomach flu include dehydration, watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, headache, muscle aches, weakness and vomiting. It is also known as 24 hours flu, since these symptoms settle by themselves in a couple of days.
Difference Between Food Poisoning And Stomach Flu
- Food poisoning is caused due to consumption of bacteria-laden food, while stomach flu is a result of contaminated food, poor sanitation and air/water borne viruses.
- Food poisoning is a hazardous ailment and hence, requires immediate treatment. Stomach flu, on the other hand, is non-hazardous and causes dehydration affecting the intestinal tract.
- While food poisoning can spread through any contaminated food product, stomach flu can spread through water, food and even touching.
- Food poisoning can sometimes lead to serious complications resulting in hospitalization, kidney failure or even death, in case of children. While in case of stomach flu, it only leads to dehydration and very rarely causes serious complications.
- The symptoms of food poisoning are visible within 2 to 48 hours of consuming contaminated food, while the symptoms of stomach flu start appearing anytime within 1 to 10 days.
- Food poisoning lasts for a longer duration as compared to stomach flu.
- Stomach flu can be prevented by avoiding contact with an infected person and maintaining personal hygiene. To avoid food poisoning, cook food in a clean place, store it appropriately and avoid consuming old and stale food.