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What is a Stomach Bug?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

The term "stomach bug" refers to pain in the stomach that may be caused by any number of issues. A stomach bug may be caused by a virus or bacteria, and it may cause pain in the stomach area, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, or other types of discomfort in combination with each other or independently. Sometimes food poisoning is mistaken for a stomach bug, and if the conditions persist or worsen, a sufferer should visit a doctor immediately, as food poisoning can be a serious issue that should be dealt with in a timely manner.

The term itself is a colloquialism for a virus that attacks the intestines and causes abdominal pain as well as other symptoms that may vary according to the specific virus. Muscle aches, fever, and fatigue can often accompany such a virus, and the symptoms may last for up to ten days. More often, however, the symptoms begin to fade or disappear altogether after only a few days. People often pick up viruses by coming in contact with other people who already have the virus, or by touching a surface that an infected person may have also touched.

Regular hand washing can help the spread of stomach bugs.
Regular hand washing can help the spread of stomach bugs.

Prevention of a virus includes washing hands frequently and avoiding touching the face, particularly the mouth and eyes. Once the virus has attacked one's system, he or she has to wait until the virus runs its course. It is important to stay well-hydrated during the duration of the stomach bug to avoid dehydration that can lead to other potentially serious issues. A sufferer of a virus will probably experience decreased appetite, but it is important to take in calories during the illness. Bland foods such as toast or some soups or broths are ideal choices for foods eaten during a stomach bug.

A stomach bug can cause stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea and gas.
A stomach bug can cause stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea and gas.

Food poisoning features most of the same symptoms as a virus, but this condition is much more serious, as some types of food poisoning can lead to kidney failure and even death, usually in infants or small children. Food poisoning symptoms will often begin to crop up shortly after eating a certain food that contained some sort of bacteria, though symptoms may not spring up for several hours or even days. The pain in the abdomen may get quite severe, and watery diarrhea is likely to occur. It is important to see a doctor when the symptoms of a stomach bug or food poisoning occur to eliminate a serious problem and treat the problem at hand.

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    • Regular hand washing can help the spread of stomach bugs.
      By: Lasse Kristensen
      Regular hand washing can help the spread of stomach bugs.
    • A stomach bug can cause stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea and gas.
      By: Brian Jackson
      A stomach bug can cause stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea and gas.
    • Food poisoning usually causes more severe symptoms than a stomach virus.
      By: Alliance
      Food poisoning usually causes more severe symptoms than a stomach virus.
    • Vomiting is a common symptom of a stomach bug.
      By: Lars Zahner
      Vomiting is a common symptom of a stomach bug.
    • A stomach bug may be caused by a virus or bacteria.
      By: michaeljung
      A stomach bug may be caused by a virus or bacteria.