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poofandmook's avatar

How can you tell the difference between food poisoning and a stomach virus?

Asked by poofandmook (17225 points ) May 9th, 2010

I ask because my kid sister was recently on a band trip to Florida, and unfortunately she spent the entire ride from Florida to New Jersey throwing up. She ruined several articles of clothing and unfortunately not all of them were hers and she continued to feel really sick the following day, though the vomiting had tapered off a bit. She was okay by the third day, though really tired and sort of weak.

I assumed since she was on a trip eating what probably amounted to fast fast food for several days and several meals, plus fast food at rest stops (notoriously dodgy), she probably had a mild case of food poisoning.

She had no fever or anything.

I’m just curious here.

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15 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Usually the time frame. Food pooisoning doesn’t last as long as a stomach virus, and other people don’t catch it (unless they ate the same food).

Lightlyseared's avatar

You can’t. A large amount of food bourne illnesses are caused by norovirus for example. The symptoms are the same (vomitting and diarrhea).

CaptainHarley's avatar

Unless she had other symptoms, she most likely had a mild case of food poisoning. It would be helpful to know what she ate that the others did not, and if anyone else experienced nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

MissA's avatar

Unfortunately, lab work.

janbb's avatar

I’d have thought she’d have diarrhea with food poisoning too, not just vomiting. Also, I think food poisoning is a very severe, sudden reaction but I guess it is hard to tell at this point.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t know but I’m having one right now.

faye's avatar

I’ve only had food poisoning once- from a catered affair, so there were a few of us- and it was a sit on the toilet with the bucket in your arms thing. But I’ve also had gastroenteritis which was the same thing. I wonder why more on the bus weren’t sick?

poofandmook's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: I hope you feel better soon!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

No,I can’t.I don’t bother with the details when I am pooping my pants ;)

cazzie's avatar

My hubby is having a bad time with this now. (On an oil rig off the coast of Brazil) The lack of persistent fever points to some sort of food poisoning, but you can’t be sure. Hot flashes often occur with food poisoning. There are types of hepatitis that can affect people like this, but the good part is once they get it, they build up antibodies and won’t get it next time (or get it as bad.. probably won’t even notice).. but bacteria is bacteria and they can be nasty and ruthless. If it was a virus (and fast acting at that), the best way to work that out, without lab work, is to see if anyone else comes down with it in that typical way viruses spread through a closely exposed group. If no one else does, it’s probably something she ate.. or less likely.. it is still a virus, but everyone else is in such good shape immune wise they don’t get it ..(Yeah.. highly unlikely, but not impossible).

Food poisoning is FAR more common that we’d like to tell ourselves. It really is easy for food prep workers to get their shit, their cat’s shit, or the shit from the money they handle onto our food.

SuperMouse's avatar

I have a friend who worked as a health inspector. She told me that one way to tell the difference is that food poisoning is not commonly accompanied by a fever. If there are the symptoms you describe, without a fever, odds are good it is food poisoning.

poofandmook's avatar

It just seemed weird because nobody else was sick on the bus ride back. Now, I don’t know if they had different food choices, or the kid just got “lucky” and ended up with the “bad apple” of cheeseburgers on the road.. lol

What I do know is that when she walked into my grandmother’s house today, she said “hi Jess” and I said, “hi, Puker.” and she threw a 17 year old hissy fit LOL

Cruiser's avatar

I have a friend in the catering business and has to be extra careful concerning food poisoning and was what I considered expert on the issue. He was adamant that 90% of stomach issues we experience are due to food handling issues at home and out and about. He was extremely cautious when eating out as he was chock full of gross horror stories in the food preparation industry to the point where I didn’t every want to eat out again! Yucky yuck!

mattbrowne's avatar

A stomach virus got DNA or RNA. A poison doesn’t.

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