The news is filled with scary health situations ranging from Ebola to the enterovirus that is affecting children across the United States – not to mention that nasty stomach flu going around.
It can become confusing after seeing a list of symptoms for the enterovirus and then in the next news article, a list of symptoms for Ebola, and they all sort of look the same.
Let’s take a look at each illness and break it down.
Influenza Virus: The Flu and You
The influenza virus, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness that is spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing.
When you have the flu, you’re contagious one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue, and some people experience vomiting and diarrhea.
This enterovirus has also been making headlines. As of October 15, 2014 either the CDC or state health laboratories have confirmed a total of 780 people in 46 states who have enterovirus D-68. Enterovirus D-68 has been detected in seven people who have died and had samples sent for testing. According to the CDC, most of these cases have been children, especially those with asthma or a history of wheezing.
The enterovirus is spread via droplets from the infected person when they cough, sneeze, or touch an object or surface and then is touched by another person. The virus is also found in the stool of the infected person. Symptoms can be mild to severe and can include, fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body aches. Severe symptoms include wheezing and difficulty breathing, according to the CDC.
Stomach Virus AKA Stomach Flu
Viral gastroenteritis is inflammation of the stomach and intestines due to a virus. There are different viruses than can cause this inflammation and the most common viruses include, the norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus, and the enteric virus. When you’ve got the so-called stomach flu, you are most contagious when you are sick and during the first few days as you recover.
Symptoms, according to the CDC include, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache, and body aches.
Ebola is spread between people when they have (through broken skin or mucus membranes) direct contact with infected blood, secretions, organs, or bodily fluids.
According to the World Health Organization, initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. Once a person shows these initial symptoms, then he or she is considered to be infectious.
These initial symptoms are followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, internal and external bleeding (i.e, bleeding gums or blood in the stool).
All of these illnesses have very similar symptoms, but some have very serious outcomes – so it’s best to avoid getting sick in the first place!
So what can you do to avoid getting sick? Obviously washing your hands is a key factor, but so is keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
When you sit at your desk, don’t prop your chin upon your hand. You should also avoid rubbing your eyes… and kids: Use a tissue if you need to blow your nose.
Your eyes, nose, and mouth are entry points where germs gain access to your immune system. Seventy to eighty percent of your immune system is housed in your gut. So what we eat can in turn affect our immune system and its ability to respond to illness.
Avoiding processed foods and eating a whole foods diet can go a long way in preventing illnesses.
So – mom was right when she told you to “wash your hands and eat your vegetables.”
Decoding Science. One article at a time.