Food Poisoning: Signs, Causes, and Treatment

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Food poisoning

Food poisoning is a food-borne disease that comes from eating contaminated, toxic, or spoiled food. The most common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, stomachache, and vomiting.

Although it can be uncomfortable and painful, food poisoning is not an unusual disease. Most people will have it at least once in their lives. According to the CDC, at least 1 in every 6 Americans will contracts a form of food poisoning annually.

READ ALSO: Top 7 Foods That Mess Up Your Digestive System

Symptoms of food poisoning

The symptoms of food poisoning may differ depending on the source of infection. Although one thing is clear – it will always be detectable. Depending on the source of infection, the time for the symptoms to appear can vary from 1 hour to as long as 28 days.

Some of the common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild fever
  • Headaches

Some mild cases of food poisoning are fortunately self-limiting. This means that the illness will resolve itself without the use of medication or treatment. However, some cases might be life-threatening and these are some of the symptoms.

  • Difficulty in speaking or seeing
  • High fever of 101.5°F (38.6°C) and above
  • Diarrhea persisting for over 3 days
  • Bloody urine
  • Symptoms of severe dehydration including difficulty in keeping fluids down, infrequent urination, and dry mouth.

Causes and risk factors

Most food poisoning is caused by microorganisms in three major groups, namely, bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

1. Bacteria

This is the most prevalent cause of food poisoning. Most of the organisms responsible in this group include Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. Salmonella alone is responsible for 1 million cases of food poisoning with nearly 20,000 hospitalization cases in America annually.

2. Viruses

In the U.S., the norovirus, also called the Norwalk virus, is responsible for 19 million cases of food poisoning annually. It can be fatal in some rare cases. Other culprits include the rotavirus, sapovirus, and astrovirus.

3. Parasites

Although they are not as common as the others, they are equally as dangerous. The most common parasite is Toxoplasma, which is typically found in cat litterboxes.

Risk Factors

Although anyone can contract the disease, there are some demographics that are more prone than others. These include:

  • People with an autoimmune disease
  • Pregnant women
  • Elderly people
  • Children

Diagnosis and treatment of food poisoning

Food poisoning is diagnosed based on the symptoms noticed. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend stool tests, blood tests, and food sample tests in severe cases to determine the causative organism. You may also require a urine test to determine if you are dehydrated or not.

As previously stated, most cases are self-limiting and will resolve on their own within 3-5 days. However, here are some things to ensure you have a relatively comfortable experience until it passes.

  1. Remain hydrated. High electrolyte drinks like sports drinks, fruit juice, and coconut water can replace lost electrolytes and fluids.
  2. Avoid caffeine as it irritates the gut. However, decaffeinated teas made from herbs like chamomile, dandelion, and peppermint may soothe the stomach.
  3. Use OTC drugs like Pepto-Bismol and Imodium to control diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. However, check-in with your doctor before usage.

If symptoms do not clear out within 2-3 days or you experience any of the life-threatening symptoms above, then report to the hospital for proper treatment.

What foods can you eat to help?

Until diarrhea and vomiting pass, it might be hard to keep food down. The least you can do is avoid foods that will worsen these symptoms. These easy-to-digest foods should provide you with energy and sustenance until you feel better.

  • Decaffeinated soda
  • Sports drink
  • Bananas
  • Saltine crackers
  • Gelatine
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Chicken broth
  • Boiled vegetables
  • Bland potatoes
  • Toast
  • Diluted fruit juices

On the other hand, avoid eating fatty foods, dairy foods, caffeinated drinks, nicotine, alcohol, highly-seasoned foods, fried foods, spicy foods, and sugary foods.

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BeYAH Fitness
BeYAH Fitness
BeYAH Fitness was born out of a desire to reach, educate and inspire a greater number of people than those we coached and worked within our own local community. It gives us the chance to connect with individuals from all over the world and in a form that still personalizes the approach to bring each person what they need for their nutrition at that point in time.