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Differentiating Between Food Poisoning and a Stomach Virus

Posted on in Food Poisoning

Differentiating Between Food Poisoning and a Stomach VirusIf you are experiencing sudden stomach pain, nausea and/or diarrhea, there are generally two possible causes: food poisoning or stomach flu. Both of their symptoms are similar enough that it is difficult for you to tell the difference. However, the difference between food poisoning and stomach flu can determine whether someone may be liable for your medical expenses and suffering. Illinois has strict liability for food poisoning cases while catching a stomach virus usually falls out of the realm of liability. This is one reason why you should see a doctor, who can diagnose the cause of your sickness.

Catching the Stomach Flu vs. Contracting Food Poisoning

The “stomach flu” is not actually a strain of influenza but a gastrointestinal virus that inflames your digestive system. The virus is passed person-to-person by coming in contact with an infected person or surfaces they have contaminated. You can catch a stomach virus if an infected person is preparing your food, but it is more common to catch it from the people you interact with.

By contrast, you contract food poisoning strictly from ingesting food that contains bacteria or parasites. Because you know that unsafe food was the cause of your illness, it is easier to figure out which food was the likely source of the bacteria. Human negligence in storing or preparing food is often to blame for the contamination.

Are There Different Symptoms?

You will see a lot of overlap when looking at the lists of symptoms for a stomach virus and food poisoning. Besides the gastrointestinal pain, both conditions can cause fever, dizziness, headaches, muscle aches, and dehydration. However, there can be slight differences between food poisoning and a stomach virus that may tip you off:

  • It typically takes between 12 and 48 hours for symptoms from a stomach virus to appear, while food poisoning symptoms may take only a few hours.
  • More severe viruses or food poisoning cases may have additional symptoms, such as the neuromuscular symptoms associated with botulism.

If you develop symptoms almost immediately after eating, that means you are likely suffering from food poisoning. You need to visit a doctor to confirm whether it is food poisoning or a stomach bug.

Contact an Arlington Heights Food Poisoning Attorney

Once you know that food poisoning caused your illness, your next step is to figure out the source of your food poisoning. An Illinois food poisoning lawyer at Newland & Newland, LLP, will help you identify the party that is liable for your food poisoning and hold them accountable. To schedule a consultation, call 312-981-0409.


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