Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Just a Stomach Virus

“I’m worried about sunstroke,” said a guest at Maison 140 last week. Her husband was vomiting, and they had returned from a walking tour of Beverly Hills. The temperature was in the 90s.

Sunstroke is life-threatening, and it takes much more than a hot afternoon walk in Los Angeles to bring it on. I’ve never made the diagnosis, but hotel guests worry about it.

“Someone put something into my drink.”

You might think no one outside of a bad movie would say this, but I hear it perhaps once a year. It’s alarming to fall violently ill after a night on the town, and Los Angeles is an exotic locale to many patients, so anything can happen.

“The sushi tasted funny…”

It’s common sense that food your stomach rejects must be noxious, but if you’ve been paying attention you know that using common sense to explain an illness is proof that you don’t know what’s going on.

Food poisoning is not rare, but the responsible toxins are tasteless. Also, infections such as Salmonella are not the result of spoilage but contamination of ordinary food with feces.

It’s impossible to diagnose food poisoning unless more than one person is sick. Almost everyone blames an upset stomach on the previous meal, but it’s most likely a virus. Google “viral gastroenteritis.”

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