Who Is At Higher Risk For Food Poisoning
Those at higher risk include adults aged 65 and older, children younger than 5 years, people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the bodys ability to fight germs and sickness, and pregnant women. These groups are at risk for severe symptoms or complications from food poisoning, including illnesses caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria.
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Signs of Food Poisoning & Contamination
How Do Doctors Treat Food Poisoning
To treat food poisoning caused by bacteria or parasites, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or medicines that target parasites, in addition to rehydration solutions.
In some cases, doctors may recommend probiotics. Probiotics are live microbes, most often bacteria, that may be similar to microbes you normally have in your digestive tract. Studies suggest that some probiotics may help shorten a bout of diarrhea. Researchers are still studying the use of probiotics to treat food poisoning. For safety reasons, talk with your doctor before using probiotics or any other complementary or alternative medicines or practices. This is especially important when children, older adults, or those with weak immune systems have diarrhea.
Doctors may need to treat people with life-threatening symptoms and complicationssuch as severe dehydration, hemolytic uremic syndrome, or paralysisin a hospital.
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How Is Food Poisoning Diagnosed And Do I Need Investigations
Most people will recognise food poisoning from their typical symptoms. If symptoms are mild, you do not usually need to seek medical advice or receive specific medical treatment.
However, in some circumstances, you may need to seek medical advice when you have food poisoning . The doctor may ask you questions about recent travel abroad or any ways that you may have eaten or drunk contaminated food or water. The doctor will also usually check you for signs of lack of body fluid . They may check your temperature, pulse and blood pressure. They may also examine your tummy to look for any tenderness.
Your doctor may ask you to collect a stool sample. This can then be examined in the laboratory to look for the cause of the infection. A stool sample is not always needed. Your doctor is likely to suggest one in certain situations, such as:
- If you have recently been abroad.
- If you are very unwell.
- If you have blood or pus in your stools.
- If your diarrhoea is not settling after a week.
- If you have recently been in hospital or had antibiotic treatment.
- If you have another medical condition, particularly one which affects your immune system.
- If the doctor is not sure you have food poisoning or a gut infection .
- If your job involves handling food.
If you are very unwell, you may need admission to hospital. If this is the case, further investigations may be needed such as blood tests, scans or a lumbar puncture. This is to look for spread of the infection to other parts of your body.
Food Poisoning Medication: What Are Your Options
Food poisoning can spoil your memories of a wonderful dinnerand ruin your week.
The common symptoms of foodborne illnesses, commonly called food poisoning, include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
These can be unpleasant and disturb your daily life, and leave you with one question: What can you do to feel better?
That question is very, very common: There are nearly 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. in a given year.
The good news is that most bouts with these illnesses pass without formal medication.
Still, there are a number of medications and treatments that can help relieve symptoms and speed up the recovery process.
In this article, Ill discuss different types of treatments, including prescription medications, over-the-counter treatments, and home remedies.
I will also cover what to do after food poisoning so you can get back to feeling healthy .
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Definition And Facts About Food Poisoning
- Food poisoning is a disease that usually results in vomiting and diarrhea after a person eats or drinks fluids contaminated with certain bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals .
- The most common symptoms and signs of food poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea.
- Other symptoms that may occur are fever, abdominal pain and/or cramps.
- Severe signs and symptoms may include dehydration, blood in vomit or stools, diarrhea over three days, and neurologic symptoms for example, weakness, blurry vision, and an abnormal sensation of the body such as burning, tingling, or numbness .
- Causes include many things including viral and bacterial strains, parasites, and chemicals . If the cause is not from contaminated food, it most likely is contagious.
- Depending on the cause of food poisoning, the duration of the majority of food poisoning usually ranges from a few hours after exposure to contaminated food or fluid to several days.
- Treatment of food poisoning depends on the cause most people self-care in a few days, but some cases may benefit from specific antibiotic or antiparasite treatments once the cause is identified.
- Home remedies to soothe food poisoning symptoms may help speed recovery and may include:
ToxinsVarious toxins and their sources
- Taenia solium
The causes of food and water poisoning are numerous. This brief listing of causes should suffice as a framework to begin more detailed studies of food poisoning.
What Are The High
If youre pregnant, elderly or very young, or your immune system is weak through illness or drugs, youre at greater risk of food poisoning and possibly serious complications.
If youre pregnant, listeria can cause you to miscarry, even if you dont know youve been infected. If you notice symptoms usually like a mild flu but also diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea contact your doctor immediately.
Read more about how to avoid listeria on the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website.
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Can One Person Get Food Poisoning And Not Another
Yes. When two people eat the same food, one can end up with food poisoning and not the other. How? Most often bacteria, viruses, and parasites contaminate food via improper preparation and items like cooking utensils, dishes, cutting boards, and other surfaces. Your food might have been prepared using different utensils and dishes. Additionally, some bodies are simply better equipped to fight off foodborne infections than others.
How Do I Know If It’s Food Poisoning Or A Stomach Virus
Food poisoning and stomach viruses generally have the same symptoms, although food poisoning symptoms can be more severe. Food poisoning can also be traced back to a specific source, while stomach viruses cannot. Further, in some cases, the onset of food poisoning symptoms is sooner than stomach viruses, which have a 24- to 48-hour incubation period. So, if you eat a meal and almost immediately feel sick, chances are it’s a foodborne illness.
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Food Poisoning: Who’s To Blame
People sometimes mistakenly believe that food poisoning is caused by overeating. In fact, this is completely false. Food poisoning is caused by the ingestion of food or beverages contaminated by microorganisms or their toxins. It is true however, that after a copious or spicy meal accompanied by flowing glasses of alcohol, this may trigger symptoms resembling those of food poisoning.
There are several routes of contamination possible, for example:
- food manipulated or prepared by an infected individual
- inadequate cleaning or undercooked food
- food contact with an object that has been contaminated by other foods
How Can Food Poisoning Be Prevented
Prevention of food poisoning is possible. The Centers for Disease Control published ways to prevent food poisoning and included links to videos:
- CLEAN: Wash your hands and surfaces often. Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water and always follow the rules of food safety.
- Don’t cross-contaminate. Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread germs to ready-to-eat foods – unless you keep them separate. Watch the SEPARATE video!
- COOK: Cook to the right temperature. While many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145 F for whole meats , 160 F for ground meats, and 165 F for all poultry. Watch the COOK video!
- CHILL: Keep your refrigerator below 40 F and refrigerate foods properly. Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them.
When traveling in foreign countries, especially developing countries, it is best to wash any fruits or vegetables before eating and only drink from commercially sealed bottles. The use of ice in drinks is not recommended.
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Symptoms Of Lack Of Fluid In The Body
Diarrhoea and vomiting may cause lack of fluid in the body . Consult a doctor quickly if you suspect you are becoming dehydrated. Mild dehydration is common and is usually easily reversed by drinking lots of fluids. Severe dehydration can be fatal unless quickly treated because the organs of your body need a certain amount of fluid to function.
Symptoms of dehydration in adults include:
Severe dehydration is a medical emergency and immediate medical attention is needed.
Dehydration in adults is more likely to occur in:
- Elderly or frail people.
- Pregnant women.
- People with severe diarrhoea and vomiting. In particular, if you are not able to replace the fluid lost with enough drinks.
If Your Case Is Severe
In severe cases of food poisoning, you may require hydration with intravenous fluid at a hospital.
In the very worst cases of food poisoning, a longer hospital stay may be required while you recover. People with severe cases of C. botulinum, which are rare, may even require mechanical ventilation.
Its best to gradually hold off on solid foods until diarrhea and vomiting have passed. Instead, ease back into your regular diet by eating or drinking simple-to-digest items that are bland and low in fat, such as:
- saltine crackers
- soda without caffeine, such as ginger ale or root beer
- diluted fruit juices
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Lifestyle And Home Remedies
Food poisoning often improves without treatment within 48 hours. To help keep yourself more comfortable and prevent dehydration while you recover, try the following:
- Let your stomach settle. Stop eating and drinking for a few hours.
- Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. You might also try drinking clear soda, clear broth or noncaffeinated sports drinks. You might also try oral rehydration solutions if you have severe dehydration symptoms or diarrhea. You’re getting enough fluid when you’re urinating normally and your urine is clear and not dark.
- Probiotics. Your doctor may recommend trying probiotics. Ask your doctor before trying probiotics.
- Ease back into eating. Gradually begin to eat bland, low-fat, easy-to-digest foods, such as soda crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas and rice. Stop eating if your nausea returns.
- Avoid certain foods and substances until you’re feeling better. These include dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and fatty or highly seasoned foods.
- Rest. The illness and dehydration can weaken and tire you.
How Is Food Poisoning Diagnosed
Anyone can contract a foodborne infection, but babies, young children, pregnant women, and older adultsessentially anyone with a weakened immune systemhave a higher risk. Typically, a primary care provider or pediatric primary care provider will be able to diagnose your foodborne illness after a physical examination and, in certain cases, additional tests. If digestive symptoms become chronic or severe, you might want to visit a gastroenterologist or infectious disease specialist as well.
Making a diagnosis, however, is not quite as simple as declaring that you have food poisoning, because the provider also needs to determine the root cause. It’s useful to start each evaluation by reviewing the patient’s history. “If a person who normally feels well and is otherwise healthy, all of a sudden becomes very ill with vomiting and diarrhea, this fits the initial picture of food poisoning,” said Jesse P. Houghton, MD, senior medical director of gastroenterology at Southern Ohio Medical Center.
Establishing a symptom timeline can be especially helpful, “Different microorganisms have different incubation periods that transpire before symptoms appear and this can be a clue to the agent responsible,” according to Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Symptoms may appear anywhere between 30 minutes to four weeks after exposure, says the CDC, depending on the infection.
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Probiotics For Travellers Diarrhoea
Whether you’re going away to a familiar destination, returning home to see family or backpacking to distant lands to explore uncharted territory, holidays are invariably a memorable experience. However, sometimes these new experiences can also produce some nasty and uncomfortable stomach-related side effects.
Saccharomyces boulardii has also been extensively clinically researched6 for travellers diarrhoea and found to support gut health in those that travel abroad to exotic locations. S. boulardii, as mentioned above, works differently from other probiotics specifically because of its unique transient qualities. This means that it can pass through the system without binding to the gut wall. It works by adhering itself to harmful bacteria and gently removing those unwelcome pathogens from the system.
When travelling abroad, it is a good idea to also take other types of probiotics alongside Saccharomyces boulardii to give an extra level of protection to the gut, and to battle bad bacteria and other nasties in two ways. Live cultures, like L. acidophilus and L. rhamnosus possess qualities that enable them to line the interior of the gut wall, creating a physical barrier and fortifying the gut’s natural defences. They also create a gut environment which discourages the growth of pathogens so can be a particular aid against contracting upset stomachs in countries where tummy troubles are a common issue for travellers.
What Are The Symptoms And Causes Of Food Poisoning
You may be sick with food poisoning but not know what food caused it or even that you have it. Different bacteria and viruses can have different effects:
- Salmonella: gastro and flu-like symptoms can appear between 8 and 72 hours after eating the infected food and last for 2 to 5 days.
- Campylobacter: gastro symptoms appear in 2 to 5 days, and last for 2 to 10 days.
- Listeria: gastro or flu-like symptoms usually appear within 3 weeks, but can take up to 70 days.
- Norovirus or rotavirus: severe gastro or flu-like symptoms usually begin 24 to 48 hours after exposure and last 1 or 2 days or up to 6 days .
- E. coli: gastro symptoms usually appear in 3 to 4 days and last about 1 week.
Food needs to be stored, handled and cooked carefully and at temperatures that avoid the spread and growth of bacteria that can make you sick. Read about preparing food safely.
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Preventing The Spread Of Food Poisoning To Others
Some infections causing diarrhoea and vomiting are very easily passed on from person to person. If you have diarrhoea, the following are also recommended to prevent the spread of infection to others:
- Wash your hands thoroughly after going to the toilet. Ideally, use liquid soap in warm running water but any soap is better than none. Dry properly after washing.
- Don’t share towels and flannels.
- Don’t prepare or serve food for others.
- Regularly clean the toilets that you use. Wipe the flush handle, toilet seat, bathroom taps, surfaces and door handles with hot water and detergent at least once a day. Keep a cloth just for cleaning the toilet .
- Stay off work, college, etc, until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.
- Food handlers: if you work with food and develop diarrhoea or vomiting, you must immediately leave the food-handling area. For most, no other measures are needed, other than staying away from work until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting. Some special situations may arise and sometimes longer time off is needed. If in doubt, seek advice from your employer or GP.
- If the cause of food poisoning is known to be a germ called cryptosporidium, you should not swim in swimming pools for two weeks after the last episode of diarrhoea.
What Causes Food Poisoning
When people eat or drink something that’s contaminated with germs, they can get sick with food poisoning. Often, people get food poisoning from animal-based foods like meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and seafood. But unwashed fruits, vegetables, and other raw foods also can be contaminated and make people sick. Even water can cause food poisoning.
Foods and liquids can be contaminated at lots of different points during food preparation, storage, and handling. For example:
- Water that is used to grow food can become infected with animal or human feces .
- Meat or poultry may come into contact with germs during processing or shipping.
- Bacteria can infect foods stored at the wrong temperature or kept too long.
- Cooks or other food handlers can contaminate foods if they don’t wash their hands or they use unclean utensils or cutting boards.
People with health conditions or weakened immune systems are more at risk of getting ill from food poisoning than people who are in good health.
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