Causes Symptoms, and Treatment of Food Poisoning
The disease can be contracted through any means. A number of natural factors have been identified to be vehicles for the transmission of diseases. Some diseases can be transmitted through air and water, while others can be transmitted through food. Diseases that are contracted through food are known as foodborne diseases, and the common name for foodborne illnesses is food poisoning.
Food poisoning is not the intentional addition of poison to foods. Foods become poisonous when they get contaminated through several means, which include the following;
Chemicals that were used to grow and process foods can make them unfit for consumption.
Foods that were not properly stored and taken care of; can encourage the infestation of harmful pests.
Undercooked foods can also lead to poisoning.
Certain chemicals and seasonings that are used for cooking certain foods
Food poisoning is caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses. When these organisms come in contact with foods through any of the aforementioned means, the food becomes toxic.
Indications of food poisoning can vary from mild to serious, and the common symptoms of food poisoning are; diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Food poisoning is a common illness that can happen to anybody. It occurs when certain chemicals from food processing and storage render the food poisonous and unfit for consumption. Symptoms can begin as early as few hours after the food has been eaten.
Foodborne illnesses lead to the inflammation of the stomach lining. Some cases of food poisoning can be treated at home. However, in cases where the illness is getting complicated, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Though tests are not required for diagnosis, all you need to do is properly explain and describe to your Doctor the symptoms you feel. Food poisoning can easily get complicated if left untreated. One of the most active factors that complicate food poisoning is dehydration. This automatically means, as much as you can, when you experience any food poisoning symptoms, stay hydrated.
The symptoms of food poisoning have been discovered to vary based on the source and means of contamination. However, the common symptom of food poisoning irrespective of its source and means of contamination include;
- Abdominal cramp
- Diarrhea, sometimes with bloodstains
Some of these symptoms can begin few hours after the contaminated food has been consumed, while others develop a few days or weeks after the food consumption. Food poisoning lasts from hours after ingesting the food to several days or weeks.
See the Doctor When…
Sometimes, you do not need to go to the hospital when you suffer from food poisoning. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you need to see the Doctor. These symptoms include;
- Bloody stools or vomits
- Tingling arms and feet
- Diarrhea that endures for more than 3 days
- Muscle weakness
- An oral temperature that is higher than 38C
- Blurry vision
- Severe abdominal cramps or pain
- Frequent and uncontrollable vomiting episodes
- Dry mouth
- Less urination
- Frequent thirst
Food poisoning can occur at different stages of food production and processing like growing, harvesting, processing, or shipping. Sometimes, it also occurs as a result of poorly cooked and stored foods. The major cause of food poisoning is the transfer of unhealthy and dangerous organisms from one surface to another. This is usually the case for raw meats with flies hovering around and on them. These flies carry harmful microorganisms that can contaminate raw meat. Other exposed foods are salad and other vegetables. Being ready-to-eat foods, they have more tendencies to be contaminated as they were not cooked by you, and you do not know much about their hygiene history.
Microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites are causal agents of food poisoning. The table shows the different possible contaminant of foods, the onset of the symptoms of that contaminant, and the foods that can be easily affected by such contaminant.
|Contaminant||Onset of symptoms||Foods Affected|
|Campylobacter||3 to 5 days||Meat. Poisoning occurs when the meat comes in contact with contaminated water and animal feces and other procedures of processing|
|Giardia lamblia||2 to 3 weeks||Water and ready to eat raw foods|
|Hepatitis A||27 days||Contaminated water coming in contact with seafood|
|Norovirus||11 to 22 days||Contaminated water coming in contact with shellfish|
|Rotavirus||2 to 4 days||Raw foods and can be spread by people who handle the foods|
|Staphylococcus aureus||2 to 7 days||Ready to eat salads, meats, and vegetables.|
|Vibrio vulnificus||2 to 8 days||Raw or undercooked foods like oysters, mussels, and scallops. Can spread through contaminated seawater|
People who are more exposed to the hard blow of food poisoning include;
For pregnant women, changes in metabolism during pregnancy can increase the risks of food poisoning. Though food poisoning can be mild during pregnancy and it may not in any way affect the baby. Notwithstanding, it is important to talk to a doctor when you experience food poisoning during pregnancy.
People with underlying health issues, chronic health issues like HIV, diabetes, liver and heart diseases, and those undergoing chemotherapy or other cancer treatment therapies can reduce the immune system response, thereby exposing the body to the tiniest of infections.
Old adults; age reduces the swiftness and the activeness of the immune system. Thus, when you grow older, you are vulnerable and can be infected by the tiniest infection that comes as a result of decreased immune system function.
Infants and young children, due to their young age, their immune systems are not fully developed and may not be able to withstand or fight off certain infections.
Proper handling and storage of foods are some of the best ways of preventing food poisoning. Some foods have the tendency of causing food poisoning as a result of how they were produced, processed, or prepared. Most foods contain harmful organisms that can be killed during the cooking process. These foods include seafood, meat, and poultry. When these foods are not properly cooked or when they are eaten raw, poisoning sets in. In addition, when your hands are not washed after touching the raw forms of these foods, and such hand comes in contact with other foods, poisoning occurs.
In other words, preventing food poisoning involves both the proper handling and storage of foods as well as good personal hygiene like regular washing of hands to avoid spreading the infectious agents.
- Wash your ready-to-eat raw foods thoroughly before eating
- Wash your utensils before use
- Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat ones
- Do not undercook foods. Cook foods at a healthy temperature in order to kill the harmful microorganisms
- Store foods properly. You can do this by freezing foods that are perishable.
- Defrost your food in the refrigerator. Thawing foods at room temperature is quite unsafe. Defrost your frozen foods safely.
- When you are not certain about how healthy the food is for you, do not think twice about it; throw it away.
Food poisoning can be fatal for young children and pregnant women. Thus, these groups of people are advised to avoid food poisoning triggers at all costs. The following foods have food poisoning tendencies;
- Raw sprouts
- Undercooked eggs
- Undercooked shellfish or fish
- Unpasteurized milk and juices
- Soft cheese
- Raw or undercooked meats and hotdogs
Steps to Take After Food Poisoning
Firstly, when you notice any of the mild symptoms of food poisoning, allow your stomach rest. Do not eat anything. Just allow it to rest for a while before proceeding to other management therapies.
You can then move from allowing the stomach rest to drinking a lot of fluid. This helps you stay hydrated.
Avoid fatty foods and eat bland ones instead. Some of these foods include;
Other tips include
- Get enough rest
- Delay brushing your teeth as the acid in your stomach can damage your enamel when it comes back to your mouth during vomiting. Flushing your mouth with baking soda and water mix is a healthy substitute for mouth cleansing at this point.
In conclusion, food poisoning is not the deliberate addition of poisons in foods. It occurs as a result of the contamination of foods through their production, processing, and preparation. Harmful microorganisms like viruses, parasites, and bacteria are causative agents of food poisoning. The major and most effective food poisoning preventive measure is the proper handling of foods, starting with the production to the final consumption.