|Gastroenteritis Symptoms and Preventive Tips|
What is stomach flu?
The stomach flu is simply a common lay term often used whenever someone has gastroenteritis, regardless of the cause. The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that often results in symptoms such as a fever and sometimes chills, cough, muscle aches and fatigue, headache, sore throat, and/or runny nose. Some people, particularly children, may experience vomiting and diarrhea with influenza, but intestinal symptoms are not as common as the other symptoms.
|Food Poisoning and Foodborne Illness Symptoms – Photo by Katrena|
Food poisoning, now known as foodborne illness, results from ingesting food or drink that contains one of 31 known pathogens with resulting symptoms of cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by fever and/or dehydration. Additional substances are also being studied for potential health risk. Although food poisoning may be caused by a virus, including norovirus, foodborne illness can also result from quite a few different sources, the most common of which include:
|Photo by GrahamColm at en.wikipedia|
Noroviruses are a group of viruses that share certain characteristics. Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States with estimated numbers of 20 million annual cases. Foods more commonly associated with a norovirus outbreak include raw foods, fresh produce, or shellfish. People can be infected with norovirus over and over again and no vaccine exists at this point to prevent the illness, so preventive measures can be helpful in preventing its spread.
|Safe Food Handling Tips – Photo from Wikimedia Commons |
Tips for keeping foods safe
Although foodborne illnesses and norovirus can spread easily, here are some ways to help prevent the spread of pathogens that can cause gastroenteritis:
- Use proper hand hygiene – properly washing hands with soap and water is more effective in combating norovirus than using hand sanitizer.
- Keep surfaces for preparing foods clean.
- Wash produce and raw foods.
- Properly cook meats and eggs
- Ensure that perishable foods are stored in the refrigerator (40 degrees F or less) or freezer (0 degree F or less) within two hours.
- Avoid preparing foods while experiencing symptoms of norovirus infection and three days after the symptoms subside.
|Can Foodborne Illness Cause Autoimmune Diseases? - Photo by Nephron at |
Gastroenteritis usually runs its course within a few days and most people fully recover. However, some persons may experience serious signs and symptoms of dehydration and other complications of norovirus, foodborne illness, or gastroenteritis. Some populations may experience a variety of immune responses that have the possibility of resulting in chronic or serious conditions, such as:
- autoimmune disorders
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- inflammatory bowel disease
- kidney failure