Gastro, food poisoning or stomach flu: Everything you need to know


Whether you’re feeling nauseous, have the runs, or are actively vomiting, there’s nothing pleasant about an upset stomach.

As Nirvana Luckraj, the chief medical officer of Healthdirect Australia explains, gastro is an overarching condition.

Gastroenteritis is a general term that refers to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

“[It] can be caused by a variety of factors including viral or bacterial infections, food poisoning, or it can be a reaction to certain medications, or even dietary changes.”

Her team saw a spike in interest in gastro over the December and January holiday period, but have seen a downward trend since then.

Whatever variant you’re experiencing, this is how to look after yourself and those around you.

What are the symptoms of gastro, food poisoning and the stomach flu?

Symptoms of gastroenteritis can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever

Dr Luckraj says food poisoning, stomach bugs and other forms of gastro all have similar symptoms, but differ in their causes.

Stomach flu, also known as viral gastroenteritis, is caused by viral infection, and can be spread via contact with an infected person, or by consuming contaminated food or water.

Food poisoning is caused by consuming contaminated food like undercooked meat, contaminated produce, or dairy products. Dr Luckraj says symptoms usually start quickly — even just hours after consumption.

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