Food poisoning, sometimes called foodborne illness, is an irritation or infection of the digestive system caused by food or beverages. Most cases of food poisoning are caused by harmful bacteria, viruses, germs, and parasites. Harmful substances can also cause food poisoning.
But sometimes, food poisoning can linger for a long time or lead to significant problems in rare circumstances.
This post discusses the shared symptoms, causes, and treatment of food poisoning.
Table of Contents
- What is Food Poisoning – Symptoms & How to Treat It
- Causes of Food Poisoning
- Who is More Prone to Get Food Poisoning?
- Symptoms of Food Poisoning
- What to do When Infected?
- Complications Of Food Poisoning.
- How to Prevent Food Poisoning
- Food Poisoning FAQs
- How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?
- What Types of Contaminants Cause Food Poisoning?
- Is Food Poisoning Contagious?
- How quickly does food poisoning kick in?
- How is food poisoning diagnosed?
- What should I eat and drink while I’m sick with food poisoning?
- When should I call my healthcare provider about food poisoning?
- When Can you Return to Normal Activities if You Have Had Food Poisoning?
- Should I take medication for food poisoning?
- In Conclusion
What is Food Poisoning – Symptoms & How to Treat It
Food poisoning is a disease induced by consuming contaminated food. It usually is not dangerous, and most patients recover in a few days without medication. However, some patients require hospitalization.
Most food poisoning instances are caused by bacteria, such as Salmonella or E. coli, or viruses, such as norovirus.
Infectious toxins or organisms can contaminate food at any step in the manufacturing or processing process. Contamination can also occur at home if you handle or prepare your food improperly.
An example can be many types of meat that you buy raw, or even hot dogs that are, although cooked, not heated to the right internal temperature.
Foodborne illness symptoms, which can appear hours after consuming contaminated food, frequently include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Causes of Food Poisoning
Contamination can occur at any food manufacturing stage, including production, harvest, processing, storage, transportation, and preparing food.
Cross-contamination – the spread of hazardous chemicals and other pollutants, is a frequent source of foodborne illness.
This is especially problematic for fresh, raw food such as ready-to-eat items like salads or fruit. Because they are raw foods, so hazardous organisms are not eliminated before consumption, which can result in food poisoning.
So, ordering food online is something you should only do from food delivery services you can trust.
Contamination of raw or uncooked meat, poultry, and other perishable food occurs during processing when animal feces, unpasteurized milk, and polluted water touches meat surfaces.
Canned foods with low acidity or improperly canned commercial foods, smoked, salted, or fresh seafood, potatoes baked in aluminum foil, and other foods maintained at heated temperatures for an extended time have a high risk of contamination.
For this reason, it is very important to know how food delivery services work.
Contaminated salt water can affect uncooked or undercooked meat, oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops.
You can get food poisoning from eating or drinking contaminated food, water, or other beverages. Eating food that is contaminated is much more rampant than we guess. Contamination occurs when food is not:
- Washed well.
- Handled in a sanitary way.
- Cooked to a safe internal temperature.
- Held at proper temperatures.
- Refrigerated or frozen promptly.
Food poisoning happens to everyone worldwide, but it is most common when traveling overseas, where you may come into contact with harmful germs that you would not meet at home. When you acquire it this way, it’s known as traveler’s diarrhea.
Who is More Prone to Get Food Poisoning?
- Children and infants
- Pregnant women and their unborn children
- Elderly persons with weakened immune systems
These individuals are also more prone to experience severe symptoms or problems from food poisoning. Food safety is highly crucial for these individuals.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Symptoms of food poisoning can appear within a few hours after consuming bacteria-infected food, but the incubation period can be considerably longer, depending on the bacteria.
The following are the most common signs of food contamination:
- Nausea (feeling ill or uneasy) (feeling sick or queasy)
- Abdominal pain and vomiting (stomach cramps)
- Feeling sick
- Diarrhea that may involve blood or mucus, fatigue, and weakness
- Appetite loss
- A scorching heat (fever)
- Achy muscles
What to do When Infected?
Most people with food poisoning recover at home and do not require any special treatment; however, there are several circumstances in which you should consult your doctor (which will be discussed later on).
Eat whenever you feel like it, but start with quick, light meals and bland things like bread, crackers, bananas, and rice until you feel better.
For more susceptible patients, such as the elderly and those with other health problems, oral rehydration solutions (ORS), available in pharmacies, are suggested.
Complications Of Food Poisoning.
Food poisoning can cause dehydration, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and other consequences in certain situations. Serious complications, on the other hand, are unusual. Food poisoning usually lasts only a few days, and most patients recover without difficulties.
Dehydration, a significant loss of water, vital salts, and minerals, is the most common dangerous consequence of food poisoning. Dehydration should not be an issue if you are a healthy adult and consume enough fluids to replenish fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea.
Dehydration can be fatal in some situations. When an infant, an older adult, or someone with a compromised immune system or a persistent sickness loses more fluids than they can restore, they can become severely dehydrated. In that circumstances, kids may require hospitalization and IV fluids.
Certain varieties of food poisoning can have catastrophic consequences for certain people. These are some examples:
The consequences of listeria food poisoning may be the most severe for an unborn infant.
A listeria infection might cause miscarriage early in pregnancy.
Even if the mother was only mildly unwell, a listeria infection later in pregnancy could result in stillbirth, early delivery, or a potentially deadly illness in the infant after birth.
Infants who survive a listeria infection may suffer long-term brain impairment and developmental delays.
Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Certain E. coli strains can induce hemolytic uremic syndrome, a dangerous consequence.
This illness causes damage to the lining of the microscopic blood arteries of the kidneys, which can result in renal failure. This consequence is more likely in older persons, children under five, and people with compromised immune systems.
If you fall into one of these risk categories, consult your doctor as soon as you see any signs of excessive or bloody diarrhea.
Another complication is that if you are presently taking medicine, such as treatments for epilepsy or diabetes, this effectiveness will be diminished due to food poisoning.
Other complications include:
- Guillain-Barre syndrome can arise as a result of bacterial or viral food poisoning
- Irritable bowel syndrome can develop from food poisoning caused by various bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
- Botulism – a rare type of food poisoning caused by some forms of fish and shellfish poisoning, which affect the nervous system and may paralyze the muscles that control your breathing and can cause breathing problems.
- Reactive arthritis can develop following exposure to certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites, such as Campylobacterjejuni and Salmonella.
How to Prevent Food Poisoning
To avoid food poisoning, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands, raw foods, and kitchen surfaces often. Before and after handling or preparing food, thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water.
Wash utensils, chopping boards, and other surfaces with hot, soapy water.
- Separate uncooked foods from ready-to-eat meals. Keep raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish from other foods while buying, cooking, or storing food. This helps to avoid cross-contamination and keeps you from eating contaminated food.
- Cook meals until they reach a safe temperature. A food thermometer is the best way to check if meals are cooked to a safe temperature. Cooking most meals to the proper temperature kills hazardous bacteria.
Eating undercooked ground beef is a sure way to get bacterial food poisoning. So, cook ground beef at 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71.1 degrees Celsius); steaks, roasts, and chops, such as lamb, hog, and veal, at at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit (62.8 C).
Cook the chicken and turkey to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.9 C). Make sure that the fish and shellfish are adequately cooked.
- Refrigerate or freeze perishable items as soon as possible, ideally within two hours after purchasing or preparing them. If the indoor temperature rises beyond 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius), refrigerate perishable items within one hour.
- Safely defrost food. Defrosting food in the refrigerator is the safest approach to thawing it. Do not thaw food at room temperature.
If you microwave frozen food, use the “defrost” or “50% power” preset and cook it immediately.
- When in doubt, toss it out. If you are unsure whether a food is cooked properly, served, or kept, do not eat it.
Food that has been kept at room temperature for an extended time may contain germs or toxins that toxins cannot eliminate.
Do not taste the food you are dubious about; instead, discard it. Even though it appears and smells OK, it may be unsafe to consume.
Because food poisoning is highly dangerous and potentially fatal for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems, they must take extra measures by avoiding the items listed below:
- Raw meat and poultry
- Raw or undercooked shellfish
- Raw Sprouts
- Raw eggs or certain foods that have raw eggs, like cookie dough, and handmade ice cream
- Unpasteurized milk, other dairy products, fruit juices, and ciders
- Soft cheeses. You can get foodborne illness from unpasteurized cheese and unpasteurized milk products, including soft cheeses such as feta, queso fresco, and brie.
- Raw or undercooked hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats
- Refrigerated Pâté and meat spread.
Food Poisoning FAQs
How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?
Food poisoning usually passes between 12 to 48 hours. That is how long a healthy body takes to rid itself of the infection. It may continue longer if you have an immune system that is compromised or a parasite that requires antibiotic treatment, which you can get over the counter.
What Types of Contaminants Cause Food Poisoning?
Food and water may be contaminated by:
There are around 250 specific types of food poisoning. Some of the most common causes include:
- Hepatitis A.
- Staphylococcus aureus (staph)
- Shigella (shigellosis)
Is Food Poisoning Contagious?
If another person comes into touch with your germs, the infection can transmit from you to them. Germs can spread by tiny particles of vomit or excrement that stay on surfaces or fingers before being transferred to another person’s food or mouth.
How quickly does food poisoning kick in?
It depends on the type of infection. Some of the most common bacterial illnesses manifest themselves in a few hours. Others require time to incubate in your system before becoming harmful. Some food contamination can be treated in a matter of days, while others might take several weeks.
How is food poisoning diagnosed?
Your healthcare professional will inquire about your symptoms and what you’ve just eaten and drank. If you have specific symptoms, your doctor may want to take a stool sample or do a blood test to look for parasites or germs.
What should I eat and drink while I’m sick with food poisoning?
Allow your stomach to settle for a few minutes before adding food or liquids. To remain hydrated without overloading your stomach, try sucking on ice chips. Popsicles made from fruit juice or gelatin are choices for getting a little sugar for energy.
Start with little nibbles of bland meals when ready to resume eating. Some broth and crackers or toast would be ideal. The broth’s salt and water content might help you rehydrate, while the crackers provide weight to your stools.
When should I call my healthcare provider about food poisoning?
Children are more vulnerable to dehydration than adults. Contact your healthcare practitioner if you are pregnant, nursing, or caring for a kid who has difficulty keeping fluids down. If you or your kid have any unexpected symptoms, such as:
- High fever that persists (over 102 F).
- Vomit or bloody diarrhea
- Dark urine or no urine at all.
- Vision is hazy.
- Confusion or delirium
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
When Can you Return to Normal Activities if You Have Had Food Poisoning?
Stay at home for at least 48 hours after having diarrhea or vomiting. After a fever, stay at home for at least 24 hours. Inform your school or employer about the illness, especially if you or your kid were infected while there.
Should I take medication for food poisoning?
Antibiotics may be required for some types of illnesses. Your healthcare professional will work with you to discover which of these categories you have. Antibiotics aren’t always essential, and they typically don’t help. Antibiotics may even make certain illnesses worse.
Antidiarrheal drugs are rarely prescribed for food poisoning since they might prolong the disease.
Food poisoning can occur in any setting even when the food was prepared in relatively sanitary situations.
True, our immune systems are well-equipped to deal with the occasional infection.
Certain infections, on the other hand, might have devastating consequences, especially in the most sensitive among us. If you are immunocompromised or concerned, or if you are experiencing severe or unusual symptoms, consult your healthcare professional immediately for testing and treatment.