Q.What exactly is “stomach flu”? Is it caused by a virus? What are the usual symptoms, and what are some of the preventive measures and cures for stomach flu?

M.Y.

A.”Stomach flu” is a common term, but in reality there is no medical condition with that name. Flu, which is short for influenza, refers to a virus that primarily causes respiratory illness.

There are actually three influenza viruses (conveniently named A, B and C), but they cause pretty much the same syndrome, so it is generally not worth distinguishing them.

As you probably know, influenza causes fever, severe muscle aches, cough, malaise (general feeling of illness) and weakness. Runny nose or other nasal symptoms are common. In its classic form, influenza is rather severe, causing most people to miss school or work. Colds are milder illnesses and are generally caused by other viruses.