Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stomach Flu: a misnomer no more?

As anyone with a little bit of scientific knowledge is wont to do, I've been correcting people for years when they bandy medical terms about in a haphazard fashion. My attempts at correction are seldom met with a welcoming reception and I may yet give up, for instance, reminding my friends and relatives that symptoms of a Rhinovirus infection are not improved by liberal ingestion of antibiotics.

Another irresistible opportunity for correction pops up frequently when people complain of having the "stomach flu". Recently a Facebook friend repeated this common medical misnomer, bemoaning the difficulty of remaining hydrated when nothing wanted to stay down because she had the stomach flu. I was about to post a comment along with links to sites supporting my contention that influenza is a respiratory disease and has nothing to do with gastrointestinal distress. But then, as my mouse pointer hovered patiently over the comment command, I discovered that PubMed Health had apparently caved to the use of the term.

In short, the folks at PubMed have opted to equate the medical term Viral gastroenteritis with the slang "stomach flu" in much the same way as Rhinovirus has been supplanted by "common cold" in the popular vernacular. I suppose if it's good enough for as prestigious an organization as PubMed, then I should cave too, but I want you to know that I'm not going down without a fight. It will gall me to no end, however, if I run across someone who says their stomach flu was cured by antibiotics when, in fact, it was a case of giardiasis that really was helped by antibiotic medication.

1 comment:

  1. TWIV #134 Provides an excellent update on the principal cause of Viral enteritis, i.e. Norovirus. http://www.virology.ws/2011/05/22/twiv-134-meet-ralph-your-cruise-director/