How often do you think about food poisoning? It’s not something we typically consider until it happens to us or someone we know. Still, food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E. coli are serious threats that can result in severe health problems. So how do you recognize the signs of food poisoning and what should you do if it occurs?
The most common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, chills, fatigue, and headache. These usually appear within six to 24 hours after consuming contaminated foods or beverages. If your symptoms persist for more than two days—or become worse—you should see a doctor right away.
People usually consider food poisoning a symptom that develops when they eat something stale or that has not been cooked with sanitation and hygiene being kept in mind. But that is not true because you can suffer from the disease even after eating regular food. Besides, the symptoms are closely related to regular diarrhea or nausea. Therefore, identifying the disease is quite difficult.
Keeping this in mind, we have described the significant symptoms of food poisoning followed by the treatment methods. However, first, we need to learn more about the causes of food poisoning, so we can prevent the disease from happening later on in the future.
Types of germs causing food poisoning:
The first and foremost thing you need to be aware of is that food poisoning results from microbial activities in the gut. Germs like salmonella infect the digestive tract, leading to diarrhea, stomach ache, vomiting, and many more. Therefore, knowing only about the symptoms and treatment for the disease won't do. You need to know the germ types that ultimately lead to botulism. This can help you understand the source of food poisoning much better.
Salmonella is one of the major bacteria causing infections in the gastric canal, including stomach aches and gastritis. There are many ways in which the germ can enter someone's body. Although salmonella causes infection through water, you can find its presence in several canned food items and raw items that aren't handled with care.
From nausea to bloody diarrhea, E.Coli can cause many symptoms of food poisoning. In earlier days, the microbe used to spread from one person to another through uncooked or raw ground beef. But now, you can also find the microbe in fresh vegetables and lentils. Therefore, cooking the food properly is a must because E.Coli cannot withstand high heat.
Most often, bacteria and viruses thrive in food items you purchase from the market due to improper food handling and transmission. Shigella is one such microbe that passes from one vegetable to another when transported and handled without appropriate care of sanitation and hygiene. Plus, when you do not wash the vegetables properly or eat them uncooked or partially cooked, you will be at a higher risk of getting the disease caused by Shigella.
The most common type of food poisoning is botulism, and it is caused due to eating contaminated canned food. Usually, the right way to eat canned food items is by cooking them properly on high heat so that all the germs can be easily killed. However, failure to do so can lead to botulism. Sometimes, the disease can become quite severe, leading to paralysis and even death. Doctors are usually more concerned about the patient's safety when they suffer from none other than botulism.
Listeria happens when you consume milk, ice cream, cheese, and other dairy-based products that lack pasteurization. Pasteurization is a method in which milk is churned at a very high temperature to kill all bacteria and viruses. However, if you drink unpasteurized milk, there is a high chance you might get listeria. Eating uncooked seafood can sometimes lead to gut infection due to listeria.
One of the most common causes of food poisoning is enteric viruses. These microorganisms usually affect the intestinal health of the entire gut and disrupt the standard digestion chain. Two different virus types cause food poisoning. These are Norovirus and Hepatitis A. Infections due to Norovirus are communicable, while Hepatitis A is less contagious.
What are the most common symptoms of food poisoning?
The symptoms of food poisoning are hard to identify because most of them are familiar with several other diseases related to the gut. Therefore, knowing a comprehensive list will be more beneficial for you. This way, you won't have to worry about not being able to identify the disease on time and get the treatment done without fuss. So, the following are some of the symptoms you need to be aware of concerning food poisoning.
- One of the most common symptoms of food poisoning is vomiting. Sometimes, your body will reject the food you eat, even the water you drink. This can be due to excessive gastric juice release in the stomach or bloating. Sometimes, the microbes induce regurgitation, which is why you feel like puking. Vomit due to food poisoning will have a pungent odor due to gastric juice. In severe cases, however, blood can appear in the vomit, indicating serious troubles.
- Nausea is when you don't vomit but tend to do so. For example, you feel your gut churning inside you, but no matter how uncomfortable you are, you continue to feel as if you would get relief from vomiting. Nausea can cause severe discomfort, especially if you cannot vomit or drink excess water, thinking that will somehow suppress the discomfort.
- In severe cases of food poisoning, your intestinal health will be put at stake. Often food poisoning leads to poor gut flora health. These bacteria are responsible for maintaining the proper health of the gut. But if they cannot function properly, they will suffer from diarrhea. Dehydration is a common symptom of diarrhea due to the loss of excessive water from the body. Sometimes, blood can also appear in the feces if the microbe has infected the inner walls of the large intestine.
- Sometimes, you will suffer from gastritis for prolonged hours. In most cases, it is due to food poisoning. The microbes entering your gut don't allow the food to be digested in the stomach. As a result, you will feel bloated, and there will be mild pain in the stomach. In extreme cases, you can feel a burning sensation in the stomach that usually happens when the gastric juices cause lesions on the inner walls of the organ.
- Stomach ache is also one of the significant symptoms of food poisoning. It is, in fact, the most common symptom for all types of food poisoning, which is why you should confirm whether you are suffering from pain in your gut or not. The stomach ache can vary from mild to severe, and you won't get relief even after taking the pain medications.
How is food poisoning treated?
Since food poisoning is one of the most common diseases associated with gut health, you should be aware of the treatment processes. This will help you to get the proper treatment on time and eliminate all sources of discomfort. Some of the best ways in which doctors usually treat food poisoning are:
- One of the best ways to treat food poisoning is through antibiotics. Usually, doctors prescribe a course of antibiotics for seven to ten days to increase the body's immunity and natural fighting power against the microbes. The antibiotics also help keep you safe from any other disease-causing germ that can further worsen your health.
- If you have suffered from chronic diarrhea and excessive body fluid loss, you will be administered oral glucose. This will help balance the ionic concentration in the blood, ensuring you don't suffer from weakness. However, if the dehydration is extreme, causing a significant drop in blood pressure, the doctor will administer glucose through an IV drip.
- Since you might suffer from stomach ache, doctors can administer mild painkillers that won't increase the pain further. However, it is not confirmed if you will get complete relief from the painkillers because they will be milder.
- The doctor might put you on a strict liquid diet because consuming anything solid will put a lot of pressure on your digestive system, and it might not be able to function correctly. Therefore, you need to understand that eating liquid food will help in getting better faster. For instance, you can eat stew, soup, hot water, and other things.
- In extreme cases, you might get hospitalized and stay under observation for 72 hours. During this time, the doctor will give IV injections to control vomiting, gastritis, stomach ache, and loss of blood through vomit or diarrhea.