Winter is almost here, and you probably already heard of someone being sick with so-called “stomach bug” or “stomach flu”, if you have not yet dealt with one yourself. But did you know that what we used to call a “stomach flu” or “stomach bug” is actually called Viral Gastroenteritis – it is an inflammation of stomach and intestines caused by a virus.
Symptoms may include:
- Vomiting or/and diarrhea
- Stomach pain/cramps
- Joint pain/muscle ache
The symptoms of viral gastroenteritis usually develop within 24-72 hours of being exposed to the virus and normally resolve in 2-3 days. If symptoms persist or worsen and are accompanied by any other, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible and make sure you rule out any other diseases or complications and get an appropriate treatment.
Food poisoning symptoms may resemble that of a “stomach flu” accompanied by chills, sweating, fatigue and in severe cases bloody stool or vomit, severe cramping, loss of consciousness and shock. The symptoms of food poisoning can appear anytime within hours to days after initial exposure and they typically get better within 2-3 days, depending on the pathogen which caused the food poisoning. Food poisoning can occur in anyone, but it is most common in babies, young children, and the elderly.
Most forms of food poisoning are not fatal, but one form called botulism can be fatal if people are not treated properly. The bacterium called Clostridium botulinum causes botulism and yes, it is the same bacteria that helps us to wipe wrinkles off our faces. It produces toxins that impact the nervous system. Botulism can cause blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, and other neuromuscular symptoms. The source of botulism is mainly home-canned foods which are low in acid, so if you are doing pickles yourself make sure they got right amount of salt and vinegar in it.
So, what is the difference between them, you might ask?
Stomach bug may be caused by several different viruses with norovirus, rotavirus and adenovirus being the most frequent ones. The norovirus alone causes up to 18% of diarrheal diseases globally each year and about 200 000 death annually worldwide. Severe outcomes, including hospitalization and deaths, are common among children and the elderly.
Stomach bug caused by a rotavirus or norovirus infection is highly contagious and mostly occurs during autumn and winter months in South Africa. The most common way to contract the virus is from direct contact with someone who is sick. You can also contract the virus from contact with something someone infected has touched that contains their stool, saliva, or vomit substance with the virus in it.
What causes food poisoning?
Food poisoning develops when infectious organisms such as viruses, bacteria or food contaminated by parasites.
Bacteria, such as E. coli, Staphylococcus Aureus and Salmonella are among the top five germs that cause food poisoning.
Eating undercooked and contaminated food is the reason for most causes of food poisoning. We may add to this that millions of people worldwide get poisoned by fake or homemade alcohol, contaminated tap water and unpasteurized beverages such as milk, juice or cider.
Also, bacteria may be lurking on veggies and fruits which are not properly washed, raw sprouts, raw or undercooked eggs, raw fish and oysters, and soft or unpasteurized cheeses.
Apart from viral and bacterial pathogens there are lots of cases of children and adults being poisoned by garden plants, mold and wild mushrooms. Rare, but still happening are heavy metal poisoning from sources like tuna, mackerel, air or water pollution, uncertified supplements or unsafe foods and food containers among some of them.
If caught and treated timely and appropriately both viral and bacterial gastroenteritis generally have good outcome without further complications, but one thing about them – they are unpredictable, and you never know when you will be hit with one. Whereas there is not much you can do to prevent viral gastroenteritis, prevention is key if we talk about food poisoning.
What you can do to prevent food poisoning.
- Clean hands, cooking space and storage is a must: raw meat, eggs, poultry and vegetables should be properly stored, processed and cooked.
- Separate raw from cooked and use different cutting boards and utensils for raw and ready-to-eat food.
- Cook for sufficient time and adequate temperature.
- Set your fridge/freezer to the right temperature and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of cooking or within one if it is too hot outside.
- Avoid insect exposure if you are cooking or eating outside.
If despite all the precautions taken viral gastroenteritis or food poisoning found where you live, Enterosgel® is here to help.