Difference Between Flu and Food Poisoning


When you become sick your body uses all its energy to fight off the virus or bug that has become inhibited within your system. The last thing you want to do is ignore any sickness, as this your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Or decide yourself  why you’re sick and be wrong as this could potentially harm you even more by not being treated by a medical expert. Knowledge is power, so the more you know about you illness, the better off you are. However, no one replaces the care and concern of a primary physician.

The Basics

Whether its food poisoning or the flu, it’s always best to get checked with your primary care doctor. Knowing your facts before you go in for you appointment will help your doctor determine the best course of action to get you back into tip top shape. Both of these illnesses are serious and can be crucial to your overall health, if not treated properly. We all know, no one wants to waste time waiting to be seen by your doctor, but this is a necessary means when it comes to your health.

Let’s start with the basis of what causes each of these though. Food poisoning is caused by food borne illness such as e coli and can attack the stomach walls as well as the intestines on the way out. Whereas the flu starts its attack in the respiratory system and works its way through the entire body. The flu virus is highly contagious and can effect anyone at any time, even with getting your annual flu shot. Food poisoning is not contagious. The food poisoning out breaks you hear of are from individuals buying and ingesting the food from the same source. For example if a major meat packing plant in your area delivered E coli filled meat to all the local stores, then it will obviously affect anyone who consumes this meat.


The symptoms between food poisoning and the flu are very similar including upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, achy feeling and fever. The most common early symptoms of the flu are respiratory such as coughing, sneezing and runny nose. This is one way to determine that you may have the flu and not food poisoning. Another way to tell the difference is by muscle aches, muscle soreness is common in both because your body is using all its extra energy to attack itself and trying to ward off the infection, 

Although muscle soreness and fatigue can me a sign of both, its more predominant in the flu, and can be so sever making it difficult to even move your limbs without being in pain. Just as muscle soreness is associated with the flu virus, stomach cramps are usually associated with food poisoning. With food poisoning parasites are trying to make a permanent home inside your intestines, and your intestines are trying to rid and push out the parasites through bowel movements. Headaches are the last major difference in symptoms between the two. The flu  can cause severe migraines as well as minor headaches, mainly due to your rising core temperature. You can still witness headaches with food poisoning, but this is mainly because of the dehydration from vomiting not the actual food poisoning itself.

Both illness are treated in different ways so make sure you know which one you have before determining what you need to do to rid your body. Always check with your doctor if you’re unsure which one you have. Food poisoning needs to be treated with antibiotics as this is an actual infection inside your intestines and sometimes can affect your stomach lining. Most people who develop food poisoning cannot fight it off themselves. Even if you start to feel better in a few days, your body could still have the infection eating away your insides without giving you any symptoms.

The flu virus is a little easier to cure on your own, as the main medicine is rest and hydration. The flu virus basically needs to run its course through your body and will eventually die off. However depending on the string of flu as well as the person(elder, children), a doctor may prescribe inflammation or fever reducing drugs to help with any pain. Some cases of the flu have resulted in death, however this is in the rare strings and mostly from people who already had a considerable health diagnosis such as Cancer or the AIDS virus.


You can take preventive measures to ensure the safety of you and your family. Some of the ways to prevent food poisoning is to always buy your meat from a trusted source as well as making sure to cook food to the recommended temperature as this kills off most of the bacteria that can form. Remember that food borne illness is 100% preventable. Another good way to prevent food poisoning is to wash up before handling food, even if your only preparing a meal for yourself. There are billions of germs everywhere and you never know what you may have come in contact with throughout the course of a day.

Some of the ways to prevent the flu virus is to get your annual flu shot administered by a medical professional. A flu shot puts a small string of the flu into your body, which then fights it off with in a day or two(most symptoms of this are meniscal). Another way to prevent the flu is proper hygiene and abstaining from contact with others who our infected.