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Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: Nausea, diarrhea, body aches, chills. Please Help.

 sj - Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:55 pm


all day today, i have been experiencing severe nausea, diarrhea (3 times), body aches, chills, mild soar throat, and belching. the belching brings up the unpleasant flavor of the last thing i ate yesterday evening. i was at a new restaurant, where i ordered chicken, and the symptoms began early morning today. it's been so bad that i could not get out of bed for about 10 hours. i took some tylenol and nausea medication, which allowed me to muster up the energy to come to this board. though i feel a bit better, the belching continues, and the nasty flavors of the burps indicate that the chicken, even after 24 hours, is still sitting in my stomach. with the medication i took today, i also ate some crackers, drank tea and water.

my question is, what in god's name is going on? is this food poisoning from the chicken or something else i ate last night? or could this be some other sort of virus i caught the same way people catch the flu or the cold? one thing i should mention: my brother, whom i live with, experienced symptoms very similar to mine starting about 2 days ago. but our work schedules conflict, and i hardly even saw him the past two days.

i've had food poisoning once before, but this feels different. with my food poisoning episode, i was vomiting but had no aches and there was no belching. this time, there is no vomiting even though i made an attempt to induce vomiting.

i'm very afraid that this could be something more serious, such as HIV. i don't engage in unprotected sex and don't share needles. but i do work at a healthcare facility where i come into contact with blood. i always try to use universal precautions, but sometimes, things are so hectic that i forget. to the best of my knowledge, i do not recall being pricked with a needle, and i have not been splashed with blood before either.

please help me. thank you very much.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:34 pm

User avatar Hi there -

What you describe could be either a result of food contamination or the even more common norovirus, which is especially active right now and is more likely to produce symptoms somewhat less violent than salmonella, etc. (less likely to cause vomiting). The burping of what seems to be undigested or at least unprocessed food is common with norovirus infection, as the stomach usually stops or slows emptying while it is irritated, and what one ate around the time the infection became symptomatic will "repeat."

There's no reason an HIV exposure would announce itself this way. Also, norovirus is highly contagious and takes a day or so (usually) to kick in. This is the most likely suspect in this instance, and it will resolve within a few days, a week tops. However, you need to treat the symptoms, so if nausea is severe you should either get yourself some Dramamine (either formulation) or ask your doctor for a precription for a stronger antinauseant if needed. Make every attempt to stay hydrated, as dehydration is one of the biggest secondary problems with gastroenteritis (the general result of these various viral and bacterial infections). Immodium (or its generic equivalent) should help knock down the diarrhea, and Tylenol is probably easier on the stomach right now than ibuprofin (Advil) or other NSAIDs.

Rest, fluids as tolerated, and the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) again, as tolerated. Fluids are the most important, as you will eventually get hungry again. When you do, advance bland diet cautiously til it's clear your stomach has settled down.

I hope this helps. Best of luck to you. Feel better soon, and follow up here as needed.
 sj - Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:02 pm

Hello mr. kenyon,

thanks very much for the detailed explanation. my symptoms did go away in about 36 hours.

you mentioned that i shouldn't be concerned about hiv, but i just want to double-check with you on that. i recently started working at the hospital i mentioned earlier, and i often worry about healthcare exposure. i've never been pricked with a needle, and never been "splashed" with large amounts of bodily fluids. and while i do try to use universal precautions (i.e. wearing gloves when pricking patients), i do come into contact with blood. my skin often tends to be dry, and i sometimes have cuts on my skin where the top layer is peeled off. also, i get a mild sore throat for days at a time, which i understand can be a symptom of acute infection.

given this, would you say i am at risk at all? and if i am correct, nausea/diarrhea/body aches should not be seen as an indication of hiv?

thank you very much.

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