Is it the flu or norovirus? How to tell the difference

This year's flu sometimes also includes gastrointesintal symptoms -- vomiting, stomach cramps, mild diarrhea -- on top of their respiratory symptoms. How to tell if you have flu or norovirus.

At first blush, it seems fairly simple. The flu is an upper respiratory infection that causes sore throat, chills, body aches, runny nose, and coughing. Norovirus is a gastrointestinal illness that causes diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.

Many people, though, who have been infected with this season’s Type A flu strain that’s predominant in the Boston area have developed gastrointesintal symptoms -- vomiting, stomach cramps, mild diarrhea -- on top of their cough and runny nose.

“There is some overlap between flu and norovirus symptoms this year,” said Kosowsky, and it’s probably due to the nasty H3N2 strain that’s circulating and causing more severe flu symptoms than normal.

But, he emphasized, the vomiting and diarrhea associated with norovirus tends to be more explosive and intense.

Both conditions should be managed by getting plenty of rest, taking over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever and aches, and avoiding close contact with others for the first few days.

Tags: flu, norovirus

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Good information Ruth. Thank you.

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