There’s no such thing, despite the fact that you've heard people complain they have "stomach flu." You may have complained about it yourself after a bout of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that seems to come from nowhere. In fact, though, stomach flu is a misnomer.
The flu, influenza, is a respiratory infection that affects the lungs. But when people say stomach flu, they usually mean vomiting or diarrhea, says Jay Solnick, MD, professor of medicine and an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine. "Stomach flu is a vague, fuzzy way to describe these things," he says.
Doctors prefer the term gastroenteritis, which means irritated and inflamed stomach and intestines (the gastrointestinal tract) and may be any number of things, including bacteria or viruses.
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Archived: March 20, 2014
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