No Such Thing As The Stomach Flu

by updated 2010/12/12

Or so I always thought.  Try telling that to the “400 New Yorkers” that go to the ER each week with stomach illnesses.  I have always heard and read that there is indeed no such thing as a stomach version of influenza.  “Stomach flu” supposedly is a slang term used to describe symptoms like diarrhea, nausea or throwing up. The real reason for these symptoms is usually food poisoning of some sort.  If you become sick to your stomach, you have most likely ingested one of any number of food borne bacteria or viruses, but not the flu virus.

I bring this up because stories of bouts with the stomach flu have been all over the web and matter of factly state that it is the “stomach flu” that is sending people to the hospital.   I did a little research and it does seem the expert opinion is that these stories are just using the slang term to describe what is really food poisoning, or in many recent cases, the norovirus, completely unrelated to influenza.  This norovirus is highly contagious and expected to spread rapidly as we spend more time indoors this winter.

If you come down with it, I guess you will be so miserable you won’t care what the exact biological agent is, or whether you are correct by calling it the stomach flu.  Do your best to avoid getting sick by taking the same hand washing and sanitizing precautions you do to avoid the common cold.

Will Sig
1 Keith

Will,
Another, more innocuous explanation could be when you eat a food that you are incapable of digesting (dairy for some, too much fiber for others), the same diarrhea symptoms appear. If nausea/vomiting is present, then food poisoning is almost certain. The only time I experienced food poisoning, suspected from unwashed lettuce in the 1970’s, I was told to just let it pass. It was over in just a couple of days with no after-effects that I can notice.

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