Since nausea and a queasy feeling in the stomach are symptoms of both stomach flu and morning sickness, some women may find it difficult to distinguish between the two. Normally a woman does not experience the symptoms of pregnancy, like morning sickness till about the sixth week. It is quite possible for her to mistake the nausea for stomach flu.
The symptoms of morning sickness are as follows:
- Sensitivity to odours
- Excessive salivation
The symptoms of stomach flu are slightly similar.
- Abdominal cramps and ache
- Muscle ache
Normally, during morning sickness a woman does not experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. The symptoms of stomach flu do not last more than two or three days to a week at the most.
During morning sickness a woman will experience nausea and vomiting. This could last for months and generally it affects the woman only in the daytime. Some women may experience nausea through the day, for months. A pregnancy test should be taken to diagnose the cause of the continuous nausea. Generally women experience morning sickness only in the first three months of pregnancy and the symptoms usually disappear by the fourth month.
Morning sickness does not affect the foetus. On the contrary, according to medical opinion it is a good sign of foetal growth. It could be caused by the physiological changes a woman experiences during the start of her pregnancy. Nausea can also occur due to an empty stomach.
Stomach flu on the other hand is caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, food allergies or toxins which enter the gastrointestinal tract. The viruses settle in the stomach and the intestine where they incubate and multiply. The symptoms manifest themselves a few hours or even a few days later. There is diarrhea and vomiting which may lead to dehydration, if severe. Stomach flu can take its own course and the symptoms should disappear without medical treatment.
A patient suffering from stomach flu needs to stay away from solid food, milk and dairy products, citrus juices, caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol. Sips of water and sucking on ice pops between episodes of vomiting are beneficial. The person should stay hydrated as there is loss of body fluids through diarrhea and vomiting. If the vomiting and diarrhea do not stop after a couple of days then the person should consult a doctor.
A pregnant woman suffering from morning sickness should also take care to stay hydrated. Water, herbal tea, diluted fruit juices, soft drinks may help neutralize the stomach acids and replace the fluids lost through vomiting. Small frequent light meals, rather than a heavy meal would be beneficial as they can boost the energy levels. Fresh fruits, vegetables, baked potatoes, biscuits or crackers could be eaten. A pregnant woman should try and avoid the odours which make her nauseous.
Those pregnant women who follow a regular, light exercise programme have less chances of experiencing morning sickness. Stress, fatigue and worry tend to worsen the morning sickness. A pregnant woman should find time to rest in the course of the day. Meditation would help the woman relax and gain mental peace. This would be helpful for the growth of the foetus as well.
Medications to counteract morning sickness should be avoided as far as possible. Self medication should not be indulged in at all. Similarly, those who suffer from stomach flu should avoid medication as it may have counter effects.
If a woman is in doubt whether the nausea and vomiting she is experiencing is due to stomach flu or morning sickness she can consult a doctor who would recommend tests to diagnose the problem.