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Stomach Flu Vs Flu

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Stomach Flu Vs Flu

Stomach Flu vs Flu

Stomach flu vs flu – the terms are commonly used interchangeably, but did you know they are actually very different illnesses?

The stomach flu is essentially a catch-all term for Viral Gastroenteritis – a fancy way of saying a stomach virus. There are a number of viruses that cause viral gastroenteritis, but the most common two are Noravirus and Rotavirus.

The flu is a shortened term for Influenza, which is what we think of as the “seasonal flu.” This is a separate family of viruses known as Influenza A, B & C. Within the influenza family there are all sorts of strains that each vary just a bit based on how and where the strain was formed.

While both the stomach flu and the flu are viruses, they have some very different symptoms, lifespans, and treatment protocols.

Let’s find out a little more about the stomach flu vs flu:

Stomach Flu: Norovirus & Rotavirus

  • Commonly known as a stomach bug or the stomach flu.
  • Viral Gastroenteritis caused by Norovirus  or Rotavirus.
  • Not actually Influenza-related at all.

Incubation: 1-3 days from exposure to first symptoms.


  • Diarrhea
  • Vomitting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Muscles Aches
  • Headache
  • Low-Grade Fever

Duration: Symptoms last 1-3 days; can linger up to 2 weeks

Contagious Period: From 2 days before first symptoms until up to 2 weeks after symptoms appeared


  • Bland Food/BRAT Diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast)
  • Rest

How it Spreads: Fecal/Oral Route (yes, that means that somehow poo gets in your mouth… THIS IS WHY WE WASH OUR HANDS, PEOPLE.)


Surface Life: These viruses can live on hard surfaces – countertops, doorknobs, toilets, the floor, toys, pencils, computer keyboards, your phone, that remote control your sick kid is using – for up to 3 WEEKS.



Influenza A, B & C

  • Commonly known as the flu.
  • Human Influenza A, B & C Viruses

Incubation: 1-4 days from exposure to first symptoms.


  • Higher fever – over 100 degrees F
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Muscles Aches
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Feeling like you were hit by a truck

Duration: Symptoms last 1-2 weeks

Contagious Period: From 1 day before first symptoms until up to 7 days after symptoms appeared


  • Rest
  • Pain Relievers
  • Decongestants
  • Anti-Virals (these are only effective if you start them within the first day or 2 of having symptoms, so please see your doctor at the first sign of the flu if you want to try anti-virals like Tamiflu!)

How it Spreads:

  • Droplets in the air from people coughing, sneezing or talking
  • Possibly from touching contaminated surfaces, but this is not thought to be a major transmission mechanism for influenza.


  • Yearly Flu Vaccination (Flu Shot) – the strains change from year to year, so it’s imperative that you are vaccinated yearly!
  • Handwashing
  • Avoiding infected individuals

Surface Life: Influenza can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours.

How to Kill It:

  • Soap & water
  • Disinfectant Wipes & Sprays
  • Hand Sanitizer (alcohol based)
  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

Here’s a handy graphic that’s circulating the internet – I think it does a great job of breaking it down stomach flu vs flu:

Stomach Flu Vs Flu = Hydrate Either Way!

You might notice one common theme in the treatments for stomach flu vs flu – fluids! Fluids are always the go-to treatment for any virus. Why?

  • Fevers draw moisture out of your body (make you sweat) to cool off your core body temperature, causing you to lose water
  • If you’re vomiting or have diarrhea you are losing water and important electrolytes
  • Your body uses water to make mucus, and then uses more water to flush out the mucus
  • Over the counter medicines help to dry out your mucus, but end up drying out your whole body
  • Dehydration is one of the most dangerous complications of any virus, and it can actually land you in the ER if things go too far

>>AZ IV Medics to the Rescue!<<

What does AZ IV Medics offer?

AZ IV Medics brings IV fluids to you – anywhere in the Phoenix, Arizona area! If you’re fighting the stomach flu or the “real” flu, call us for a blast of IV hydration and vitamins to help you feel better, faster. We can even add anti-nausea and/or anti-inflammatory medicines to kick your IV therapy up a notch!

We have clients all over Phoenix, including Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Anthem, Cave Creek/Carefree, Goodyear, Avondale, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Buckeye, Litchfield Park, Surprise, Sun City, Ahwatukee, Lavine, and Queen Creek. We come to you!

Ready for IV Therapy to help your flu symptoms from AZ IV Medics? We are ready to help!

We have experienced medics & RNs all over Phoenix ready to come to your home or office & help you feel better. Contact us now to feel better fast!

Contact Us

Click to Call Us: 623-521-5034

Click to Text Us: 623-521-5034


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Kirk Wilson
Kirk Wilson
Kirk Wilson, RN, BSN, CEN, is a Certified Emergency Nurse with over 13 years of nursing experience. He is the Clinical Coordinator of the Emergency Department at Arizona Heart Hospital, in addition to being Director of Operations for the AZ IV Medics Mobile IV Team. Kirk is also currently working on his MSN-PMHNP. Fun fact: before he pursued a career in emergency nursing, Kirk was actually a professional soccer player for 10 years!

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