Nororvirus VS Food Poisoning: What’s the Difference?

Stomach bugs have been going around lately, but one, in particular, is hard to ignore Norovirus. Norovirus and food poisoning are commonly confused due to their similar symptoms and treatment methods, but they’re not the same. Learn how to differentiate between these illnesses to treat your symptoms and prevent future diseases properly.


Norovirus is a viral stomach bug that develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after exposure. You can be exposed through direct contact with an infected person, contact with an infected surface, and poor hand hygiene in public.

There’s no way to prevent Norovirus 100% of the time, but you can work to lower your risk. Avoid people you think may be sick, and always practice good hand hygiene. Avoid touching your face when you’re out of the house without washing your hands or using hand sanitizer first. All it takes is rubbing your eyes or nose once with the virus on your hands from a door knob or stair railing to become infected.

If you contract Norovirus, your symptoms may include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is an illness that typically begins within 6 hours or less of eating affected food. For food to carry food poisoning, it has to be exposed to bacteria in one way or another. The most common way this occurs is through improper food preparation and storage methods. Food left at the wrong temperature for too long is prone to bacteria growth. Food exposed to cross-contamination with raw meat is also prone to bacteria growth.

The best thing you can do to prevent food poisoning is to use proper hand hygiene and food practices in the kitchen. Cooking food to the appropriate temperature, storing it correctly, and keeping a clean cooking space minimizes the risk of food poisoning. Unfortunately, you can also get food poisoning at a restaurant.

Avoid food poisoning at a restaurant by dining at well-known, established restaurants with good reviews. The last thing a restaurant wants is online reviews saying the food gave them food poisoning!

Food poisoning symptoms can include:

  • stomach pain and cramps
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • diarrhea


Although food poisoning and Norovirus are different, the treatment looks very similar. Rest and hydration should be at the top of your priority list. Staying adequately hydrated is essential when you have gastrointestinal symptoms. Food poisoning rarely lasts more than a day. Norovirus usually lasts 1-3 days, though it lingers longer for some patients. If you have symptoms that won’t go away and you’re finding it hard to get back to normal after an illness, seek treatment immediately for proper diagnosis and further treatment.


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