They certainly FEEL similar- having the flu or having a gastrointestinal bug exhibit a lot of the same symptoms that make you pray for better health. However, they are not one and the same, and have different symptoms overall if you know what you’re looking for.
Flu season is upon us, at least the flu shot to avoid getting the flu. The flu itself is lurking right around the corner, erupting in October and lasting until after the New Year. Gastrointestinal bugs, however, can catch you right now, as colds are becoming more apparent and breaking down our immune systems, leaving us susceptible to multiple illnesses at the same time.
I thought I had the flu. I had the typical rushing to the potty every 5 minutes so food could come out one end or the other, and I am still able to keep little down other than water (gotta stay hydrated, after all). I also came down with a bad cold and cough at the same time. When the icky feelings didn’t subside over time and herbal teas, crackers, rice, and water, off to the clinic I went to get some type of relief for my aching pain (9 days into illness).
Turns out, there’s a gastrointestinal bug going around, a flu copycat without the fever and aches and pains that come along with the flu. There’s little to be done about it other than rest, lots of fluids, and Imodium to conquer the diarrhea caused by the bug and the antibiotics themselves. I likely got the gastrointestinal bug (the doctor at the clinic kept calling it that) from my immune system being knocked out by the cough and cold I have.
Oh, and word to the wise- if you have a persistent cough and heavy chest, don’t just hope it goes away on its own. By the time I hit the clinic, I had let a simple sniffle erupt into a full-brown bronchial infection, for which I now have to take antibiotics (also to battle my gastrointestinal bug), a super awesome cough syrup loaded with codeine (woo hoo!), and an inhaler to open up my lungs since I’m rattling like an old car.
If you’re feeling like you need to poop every 5 minutes and you’re nauseous, tired, or puking, it may be the flu, or it may be a gastrointestinal bug. The best way to tell is if your symptoms include aches in your body and a fever, which is common of the flu but not gastrointestinal illness. I’m big on herbal remedies, but if it gets to the point where you are just plain uncomfortable and you are NOT getting better, it’s time to see a doctor and get the immune-boosting tools you need to get better.
My suggestion if you feel like crap and can’t get to the doctor? Rest as much as you can and drink a lot of fluids, and try to eat something of substance (like bread or rice) to help whatever’s coming out to have more thickness to it. Mint tea helps to open up your sinuses, and Eucalyptus oil in the shower helps to open up your cavities as well. But if you don’t get better within a few days, see a doctor before you let a cold or stomach issue turn into something much worse and end up on the couch all “doped up” where you can’t feel your fingers.