2013 Flu vs. Rotavirus, Norovirus: Stomach Flu and Influenza Differences Explained

Positive influenza tests during the 2012/2013 flu season. Image courtesy of the CDC.

Positive influenza tests during the 2012/2013 flu season. Image courtesy of the CDC.

The 2012/2013 flu season has been one for the record books. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that this is the worst flu season in a decade, and it has now even reached epidemic proportions. You probably know someone who has gotten sick this winter with the flu. However, many people get confused and think the stomach bug that’s also going around this winter is the same as influenza. In actuality, they are totally different viruses.

Stomach Flu versus Influenza

You may hear it often, “oh I have the flu!” When you ask about your friend or loved one’s symptoms they tell you that they have vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and/or chills. All symptoms of the ‘stomach flu,’ also known as viral gastroenteritis. There are two main types of viruses that are responsible for making you feel miserable – the norovirus and the rotavirus. The norovirus is the most common virus in adults, where the rotavirus is most common in young children and infants. Both viruses are contagious and you will typically feel better within a few days. However, even when you feel better, you may still be contagious so it’s best to stay home and rest for at least three days if you’re an adult. Children are contagious even before they develop symptoms and can be contagious up to two weeks.

Influenza versus Common Cold

Do you have some symptoms? It may just be a severe cold. Despite the flu and the common cold both being respiratory illnesses, they are caused by two different viruses. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, however, as their symptoms are very similar. When you have a cold you may have a runny or stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, headache, and/or body aches.

When you have the flu you can have these exact same symptoms; however, symptoms will be more severe and include extreme fatigue, fever, and a dry cough. Unfortunately there isn’t a cure for the common cold. Resting, drinking lots of water, taking zinc and extra vitamin C, and yes, even eating some of mom’s chicken noodle soup can help ease the symptoms of the cold. You will feel better in a few days and the cold will go away within about a week.

Click to Read Page Two: 2013 Flu and Norovirus/Rotovirus Going Around

 

© Copyright 2013 Janelle Vaesa, MPH, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science

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  • Katie

    Can we please encourage law makers to require people who are sick to stay home? And if they come in to work they have to be sent home by law? I think we also need to encourage kids in school to wash their hands. There should be required hand washing for everyone in the schools! If the virus can be contracted from vomit and feces particles than it may not be as contagious as websites claim. People just need to properly wash their hands. Also there needs to be more rules set in place that keeps kids home when they are sick. A parent should not bring their kid to daycare if they are showing signs of a virus or flu. That is not fair to the rest of the kids. Some people may have severe complications from stomach viruses and flus. A family member of mine once got a stomach virus and it caused them to have there small intensities collapses into the larger one. They almost died. I hate reading how it is a minor inconvenience to have. It is not and we need to take steps in order to prevent this nasty stomach virus from spreading so rapidly. Daycares, nursing homes and school need to have stricter policies in place that prevent outbreaks. It really shows alot about a a person when they don’t wasn’t their hands. Nurses In hospitals and people handling food need to be fired or fined for improper hand washing or not cleaning properly! It’s time to start educating the general public on these issues! I find it disgusting that flus and stomach virus’s hit epidemic levels! Sometimes i people catch it yeah I understand this but it really goes to show you how many people are not washing properly or staying home when they are sick! I would like to make it one of my life missions to educate people on proper hand washing and I really believe we need to find a way to stop these outbreaks !