Difference Between Stomach Flu and Diarrhea

Stomach infections are generally a result of consuming contaminated food, water, and reaction to a medication. These might lead to food poisoning, diarrhea, or stomach flu. These diseases are mostly cured easily. However, proper diagnosis and treatment are mandatory to avoid any further repercussions. Stomach Flu and Diarrhea are confusing for some people. 

Stomach Flu vs Diarrhea

The main difference between stomach flu and diarrhea is that diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of diarrhea, but stomach flu is not a symptom of diarrhea. There are many other differences in terms of their terminology, symptoms, causes, treatment, and main reasons. There are a few similarities too.

Stomach Flu and Diarrhea

Stomach flu is also commonly referred to as Viral Gastroenteritis. Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Astrovirus are the three main viruses that cause stomach flu. The disease is mostly acute. But it is highly contagious. The main reason for developing this disease is the lack of a healthy lifestyle and hygiene.

Diarrhea refers to a situation when an individual has frequent watery stools. The main causes include bacterial and viral infection, parasitic infestations, intake of contaminated food or water, medication, lactose intolerance, and disorders. It is highly contagious and can spread through various factors. Therefore, it is necessary to take precautions for the same. 

Comparison Table Between Stomach Flu and Diarrhea

Parameters of ComparisonStomach FluDiarrhea
SymptomsThe symptoms include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nauseated feeling, vomiting, and fever. Weakness and dehydration are also faced by some.The symptoms include abdominal cramps, nauseated feeling, vomiting, fever, blood or mucus in stool, frequent bowels, weakness, and dehydration.
Infectious agentsThe main causes are the viruses: norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus. The main causes include viral infections, bacterial infections, medications, and alcohol. 
TerminologyIt is commonly referred to as viral gastroenteritis.There is no other term used. 
TreatmentIt is a self-resolving disease. A few antibiotics or home remedies can help.Treatment is based on the type of diarrhea. Water or fluid intake should be increased to deal with dehydration.
ReasonThe reason for developing this disease is the lack of a healthy lifestyle and hygiene.The reason for developing this disease is due to the entry of an infectious agent.

What is Stomach Flu?

Stomach flu is also commonly referred to as Viral Gastroenteritis. Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Astrovirus are the three main viruses that cause stomach flu. The disease is most acute. But it is highly contagious. The main reason for developing this disease is the lack of a healthy lifestyle and hygiene. It is important to eat healthy food. Proper washing of vegetables, utensils, and hands before preparing or having a meal is mandatory. This also helps in developing a good immune system to fight viruses.

The symptoms include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nauseated feeling, vomiting, and fever. Weakness and dehydration are also faced by some. Other symptoms may also include overall body pain, muscle pain, chills, and loss of appetite. Here Dehydration can be a problem as a result of the decrease in body fluids and electrolyte imbalance. Therefore intake of fluids should be increased. 

For diagnosing stomach flu, an individual should check the CBC (complete blood count). This is done in order to check the amount of increased White Blood Cells. This helps by displaying the infection stomach or intestines. Further tests are run in the case of chronic ones including stool tests. It is a self-resolving disease. A few antibiotics or home remedies can help.

What is Diarrhea?

Diarrhea refers to a situation when an individual has frequent watery stools. The main causes include bacterial and viral infection, parasitic infestations, intake of contaminated food or water, medication, lactose intolerance, and disorders. It is highly contagious and can spread through various factors. Therefore, it is necessary to take precautions for the same. It is also identified as the stomach flu’s most common symptom. It can be classified into acute diarrhea, chronic diarrhea, and persistent diarrhea.

The Giardia lamblia infection is another type of diarrhea also known as the traveler’s diarrhea. Furthermore, it can be divided into osmotic diarrhea, secretory diarrhea, and exudative diarrhea. Most of the time patients also experience abdominal cramps, nauseated feeling, vomiting, fever, blood, or mucus in stool. Another major problem is dehydration. This is a result of the decrease in body fluids and electrolyte imbalance.

It can cause fatigue, a decrease in the outflow of urine, low blood pressure, dry parched tongue, and weakness. It can also cause sweating and overall body pain. Problems caused by dehydration, especially in the case of infants, can be dangerous. It is advised to take help from a medical professional. The treatment is based on the type of diarrhea. 

Main Differences Between Stomach Flu and Diarrhea

  1. In the case of Stomach Flu, the symptoms include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nauseated feeling, vomiting, and fever. Weakness and dehydration are also faced by some. In the case of Diarrhea, the symptoms include abdominal cramps, nauseated feeling, vomiting, fever, blood or mucus in stool, frequent bowels, weakness, and dehydration.
  2. In the case of Stomach Flu, the main causes are viruses: norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus. In the case of Diarrhea, the main causes include viral infections, bacterial infections, medications, and alcohol. 
  3. Stomach Flu is commonly referred to as viral gastroenteritis. There is no other term used for Diarrhea.
  4. Stomach Flu is a self-resolving disease. A few antibiotics or home remedies can help. Treatment is based on the type of diarrhea. Water or fluid intake should be increased to deal with dehydration.
  5. The reason for developing Stomach Flu disease is a lack of healthy lifestyle and hygiene. The reason for developing Diarrhea is due to the entry of an infectious agent.

Conclusion

Stomach Flu and Diarrhea are both very similar to each other. However, they are quite different. Their symptoms for one are really common, except in diarrhea blood or mucus in stool can be found. In the case of Stomach Flu, the main causes are viruses: norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus. In the case of Diarrhea, the main causes include viral infections, bacterial infections, medications, and alcohol.

Stomach Flu is a self-resolving disease. A few antibiotics or home remedies can help. Treatment is based on the type of diarrhea. In both cases, staying hydrated is crucial. Both of them are contagious. Maintaining cleanliness along with the consumption of healthy food and water is necessary for avoiding these diseases.

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.4161/gmic.1.1.11036
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2255482311700947
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