Food Poisoning, Indigestion, or the Stomach Flu? How to Tell the Difference

Food Poisoning, Indigestion, or the Stomach Flu? How to Tell the Difference

Most people experience occasional stomachaches. Oftentimes, you can trace a stomachache to a known cause, like something you ate or a feeling of nervousness. When the cause of your stomach problems isn’t immediately clear, though, you want a way to figure out what’s going on. 

At Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, Mark Rosenberg, DO, and our team can help. With expertise in primary care, we know about the wide variety of issues that can affect your stomach. And with our in-office screenings and diagnostics, we can help you find out what’s causing your discomfort and get you on the path to effective treatment. 

Even before you make an appointment, though, we can help you explore some of the most common causes of stomach issues: food poisoning, indigestion, and the stomach flu. 

Identifying indigestion

Indigestion is fairly easy to pinpoint because it hinges on two specific factors: time and what you consumed. If you have abdominal pain shortly after a big meal, for example, accompanied by bloating, gassiness, or burping, it’s probably indigestion. Your discomfort should pass in a few hours. 

When you experience symptoms within a few hours of eating and they pass within a few hours, you can probably blame what you’re feeling on this common stomach issue. But if you regularly deal with indigestion, talk with us. 

With tools like allergy testing, we can work with you to figure out what’s upsetting your stomach — ideally helping you avoid recurring indigestion. 

Stomach flu vs. food poisoning

These two conditions can be more challenging to tell apart. You can even get the stomach flu — also called viral gastroenteritis — from consuming contaminated food. Beyond problem food, these two stomach issues have similarities in the symptoms they cause, including:

The main difference between food poisoning and stomach flu is that food poisoning usually comes on more quickly and resolves faster. You’ll usually notice the symptoms of food poisoning within six hours; the more severe symptoms should help you tell it apart from indigestion. Stomach flu, in contrast, can take up to 48 hours to cause symptoms. 

Fortunately, you should feel better with either of these conditions within a couple of days. While you’re feeling ill, the best course of treatment is getting rest and drinking plenty of water. 

If your symptoms persist beyond a couple of days, something else could be at play. Our team can help you figure out what’s causing your stomach issues to ensure you get the treatment you need. 

To get stomach care when you need it, call Macomb Medical Clinic at 586-315-2393 to make an appointment. 

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