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5 Ways to Tell It's Food Poisoning & Not a Stomach Bug

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Posted by on Feb. 28, 2014 at 8:46 AM
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5 Ways to Tell It's Food Poisoning & Not a Stomach Bug

by Jenny Erikson

Kid With Upset StomachIt seems like that time of year again for round two of tummy bugs. Or round three, if you’re one of the unlucky ones. It’s cold outside, which means more time indoors with more people and more circulated air, and plenty of nasty viruses floating around just waiting to infect your darlings.

But maybe this time it isn’t the flu or a virus -- maybe it’s food poisoning. Anyone can get food poisoning, even if they are hyper vigilant in kitchen cleanliness and only eat out at restaurants with an “A” sign in the window. Just a few little bacteria from a mindless cross-contamination of raw meat, or someone forgetting to wash their hands, or a zillion other things, and bam -- both ends disease.

So how do you know the difference and why does it matter? Food poisoning can be really hard on kids’ systems, and needs to be more closely monitored than in adults. They can get dehydrated fast, and if it’s a particularly nasty strain of bacteria, say like botulism, they need to get to the doctor ASAP.

Here are five ways to tell if it’s food poisoning and not a tummy bug.

  1. Sudden Onset: It takes six to 12 hours for food poisoning to hit the system after ingestion. So if you go out to dinner and your kid goes to bed feeling fine but wakes up heaving in the middle of the night, it's probably food poisoning.
  2. Sharp Abdominal Pains: A bug is more likely to produce a dull ache, while food poisoning will send sharp, stabbing pains to your child's middle.
  3. Insane Diarrhea and/or Vomiting: Your kid’s body is trying as hard as it can to get rid of the “poison” as quickly as possible, regardless of what it does to his hydration levels.
  4. You All Go Down for the Count at Once: A bug is more likely to travel from one family member to the next with a bit of overlap. Food poisoning will hit everyone that ingested the bacteria in roughly the same time frame.
  5. It Clears Up as Quickly as It Came: You’ve heard of the 24-hour flu, right? Yeah, that was probably food poisoning. The flu and other viruses last days or even weeks -- not one measly 24-hour period.

As mentioned above, the biggest worry with kids and food poisoning is dehydration. Call the pediatrician if your child’s mouth/throat is so dry they are having trouble swallowing or breathing, if they spike a fever over 100, or if there’s blood in their stool.

Otherwise all you can do is wait it out with cool compresses, backrubs, and some comforting words for your miserable little one.  

Has your child ever had food poisoning?

by on Feb. 28, 2014 at 8:46 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Corkie-
by Member on Feb. 28, 2014 at 8:50 AM
They never got it thankfully. I've had it a few times.
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norahsmommy
by Silver Member on Feb. 28, 2014 at 8:52 AM
I've had stomach flu every few years all my life. I've had food poisoning once. It's very different. The sharp pain is one thing that's different that's really obvious. It hurt so much!
mandee1503
by Bronze Member on Feb. 28, 2014 at 9:35 AM
Not yet thank god.
othermom
by Silver Member on Feb. 28, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Possibly, it can be tough to tell

TigerofMu
by Bronze Member on Feb. 28, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Yes,  And I have as well.  It was pretty miserable. 

ScrChk23
by Amanda on Feb. 28, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Thankfully the boys have never had it. 

m.garcia21
by Member on Feb. 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM
Thank god no
momofsixangels
by Colleen on Mar. 1, 2014 at 8:07 PM

No.Hopefully they never do

littlelamb303
by Member on Mar. 2, 2014 at 1:42 PM

my dh and I had food poisoning after eating at a chinese restauraunt years ago.  It was really bad.We were in the bathroom all day/night and then could barely get out of bed.   It took more than 24 hours to feel better though.  I remember it was right around dd's first birthday and thankfully she never ate chinese food at that age, so she was fine .  I cringe when I think what could have happened if she had eaten the food as well.

maecntpntz219
by on Mar. 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM
My son has never gotten food poisoning *knock on wood* but he seems to get a stomach bug almost every year. The first time he was only 7 months old and it lasted 11 days! Worst 11 days ever :( He's 5 now and this last time a few months ago lasted less than 2 days so hopefully he eventually stops getting them every year. At least now he's bucket/toilet trained!!
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