Differences Between Stomach Flus & Stomach Viruses

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Your body is aching, and suddenly you find yourself running to the bathroom repeatedly. It doesn't take a lot to figure out that the diarrhea or vomiting is probably a result of the flu. But what is it that you really have, and how do you treat it?

Stomach Flu Symptoms

  • True influenza affects the respiratory system and not the stomach or intestines. It is possible to have a bacterial infection such as salmonella or E. coli present diarrhea, fever, vomiting and headaches, which can be easily confused as a "stomach flu."

Bacterial Treatments

  • If you are experiencing what you feel are "stomach flu" symptoms, but symptoms persist for more than four days or get worse, see your doctor. Make sure you are drinking fluids to replace those lost from diarrhea or vomiting. Your doctor can diagnose a bacterial infection and prescribe the proper antibiotics that will help ease symptoms in as little as twenty-four hours.

Stomach Virus Symptoms

  • People who think they have the "stomach flu" are often afflicted with viral gastroenteritis. The most common symptoms are watery diarrhea and vomiting. Headaches and abdominal cramping are other common symptoms, along with a low fever. Symptoms may last as little as twenty-four hours or as long as ten days, with a three-day bout being the most common.

Viral Treatments

  • There is no treatment for the stomach flu, which often is a bacterial infection. Antibiotics only kill bacteria, not viruses. So the only treatment is to hydrate and get lots of rest to replenish the fluids lost. You can use a pain reliever to treat symptoms such as body aches and stomach cramping. Ibuprofen or aspirin can treat low-grade fevers associated with the stomach flu.

How Does the Stomach Flu Spread?

  • The stomach flu is contagious to those in close contact with the virus. Sharing food or drinks or other close contact can transfer the virus. If you are sick or around those who have the flu, wash your hands more frequently, and don't share drinks or utensils.

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