What Is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning, also known as foodborne illness, is caused by eating spoiled, toxic, or contaminated food or drinks that contain harmful viruses, bacterias, or parasites.
It is a very common disease and affects approximately 9.4 million people every year.
Food poisoning can be the major cause of gastroenteritis if it is not treated properly and it may result in various unpleasant symptoms. It may also be referred to as gastric flu or stomach flu.
Food poisoning Symptoms
The food poisoning symptoms can occur in any combination. It may include the following –
- Loose stool or Diarrhea
- Feeling sick or tired or nausea
- Vomiting sensation
- Stomach cramps or abdominal pain
The symptoms can be observed within a few hours of eating the contaminated food. But depending upon the pathogen that is involved, the incubation period can last longer. Vomiting usually occurs at a very early stage and loose stool or diarrhea can last for a few days.
Apart from that there are various other symptoms that can be observed like –
- High temperature or fever
- Loss of appetite
You should immediately contact a doctor, before the symptoms worsens if you –
- Feeling lightheaded
- Have bloody diarrhea
- High fever
- are over 65 years
- Have various other medical issues
- are pregnant
Who is at the risk of food poisoning?
Everyone suffers from food poisoning at least once in their lifetime. People who have weak immune systems are more prone to the risk of infection or complications. Also, pregnant women are at a higher risk because their body is going through a lot of changes in the metabolism.
If you feel the symptoms are getting worse, consult a doctor immediately. Also, do not take any medications without consulting a doctor.
Food poisoning causes
Food poisoning can be caused due 3 types of infectious agents that cause gastroenteritis, i.e., virus, bacteria, and parasites. The 2 types of viruses are Rotavirus (most common in children) and Norovirus (most common in adults).
Pathogens are found in almost all food that we eat, but the heat kills them while cooking. So, raw food can be a common cause for food poisoning, as it does not undergo the process of cooking. Also, not washing the hands before cooking or eating can contribute to the food poisoning. It can also be caused by drinking the contaminated water.
How is food poisoning diagnosed?
It is easy to diagnose the food poisoning just by looking at the symptoms. But still, the confirmation from the doctor or test should be done properly.
In various cases, lab diagnosis for food poisoning is done, like stool tests, blood tests, etc. are done to diagnose food poisoning.
How is food poisoning treated?
Food poisoning treatment can be done at home and it may take approximately 3-5 days to resolve. If you find out that you have food poisoning, remain hydrated and try to avoid caffeine intake.
Drink fruit juice and coconut water. Also, you can drink decaffeinated drinks like peppermint, dandelion, etc. to calm down the upset stomach.
Also, take proper rest.
There are various medications like Imodium or Pepto-Bismol for treating the food poisoning. But you should check it out once with the doctor because the body uses diarrhea or vomiting to get rid of these toxic substances.
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How can food poisoning be prevented?
Food poisoning prevention can be done through a number of ways like –
- Cooking properly. Ensure that proper heating is done so that all the bacteria are killed.
- To avoid the cross-contamination, separate the food, especially the raw meat.
- To slow down the growth of harmful bacteria, chilled storage helps a lot.
- Wash the utensils and hands properly before cooking the food.
- Make sure that the food you are using is properly packed or stored.