Health

The Fate of Food Poisoning - Here is How You Can Prevent it?

iMEDHealth

Did you ever get sick immediately after eating? Was it take-out or something you whipped up from leftovers? Whatever it was, you probably vowed never to look at it again! Food poisoning is as unpleasant as it sounds. After all, puking up a meal can be an etch in your memory you’d want to erase sooner than later.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is an illness caused by consuming contaminated food hence also called ‘food-borne illness’. The most common causative agent is a bacteria known as E.Coli. In fact, it is a normal inhabitant of a healthy human intestinal tract, but sometimes can cause illness i.e. diarrhea and vomiting when found outside the human body.  Other causes of food poisoning include:

  • Viruses (most common being norovirus)
  • Parasites
  • Prions
  • Toxins
  • Chemicals

 

The number of cases of food poisoning is alarming in the United States alone considering American produce is among the safest in the world. According to the CDC, 48 million people fall victim to food poisoning each year and up to 3000 dies of foodborne illnesses.

How is food contaminated in the first place?

The production, processing, packaging and storage of food comprises of many stages and contamination can occur at either one by:

  • Improper washing of food
  • Improper cleaning of hands before washing
  • Incomplete cooking meat, poultry etc.
  • Improper storing of food at the wrong temperature
  • Leaving the food out too long before storing
  • Insufficient re-heating of food before eating
  • Cross contamination of food
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Raw, uncooked processed food have a higher chance of contamination

How long does food poisoning last?

A typical case of food poisoning can last from 24 hours up to a couple of days or even weeks. The duration and symptoms vary according to the type of food poisoning. For instance, salmonella poisoning, caused by eating undercooked meat and raw eggs can last a week. A norovirus infection on the other hand may last only 2 days.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

Food poisoning causes a variety of signs of symptoms. Most of the time, signs of food poisoning are self-resolving but serious infections can cause graver symptoms. The common food poisoning symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (may contain blood or mucus)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite

When should you see your doctor?

Prolonged illness may cause the symptoms to worsen. If you’re suffering from the following symptoms seek immediate medical attention:

  • Excessive and repeated vomiting
  • Unable to tolerate fluids
  • Severe dehydration (dry tongue, confusion, increased heart rate, sunken eyes)
  • Decreased urination
  • In case of pregnancy
  • In case of pre-existing chronic conditions such as IBD
  • In case of weak immune system
  • Geriatric population
  • Infants

How to treat food poisoning?

A typical case of food poisoning can be dealt with at home to achieve swift and complete recovery. Most cases do not require specific treatment. Frequent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea can cause the body to lose a lot of water and important minerals such as sodium, calcium and potassium.  Rehydration is the mainstay of therapy.

Home-based treatment:

Points to keep in mind for immediate food poisoning treatment are:

  • Take plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • In case of intolerance, frequent sips of water or sucking on ice chips may help
  • Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) will help maintain water and electrolyte balance
  • Take small, light, semi-solid meals when you feel hungry. Bananas, toast and rice are good options
  • Avoid greasy, fried and sweet food
  • Rest when you can. Maybe take a day or two off from work

Medication and hospitalization:

Sometimes medicines have to be taken to control symptoms as well. For instance, pills to reduce nausea and relieve uncontrollable diarrhea may be prescribed. Do not self-medicate as some drugs induce diarrhea and nausea. Seek advice from your physician first. You can even consult top online doctors and receive expert medical topics at www.imedhealth.us.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed by your doctor for severe symptoms associated with bacterial infections that fail to resolve with home-based food poisoning remedies. For instance, food poisoning caused by listeria requires hospital admission and intravenous injection of antibiotics.

There is no one for all food poisoning cure per se, but the methods explained above can help alleviate the signs symptoms and provide immediate relief. Food poisoning can cause a great deal of discomfort and lethargy and getting through the day may be difficult. Indulging yourself with a good book or tv show can help distract you and pass the time. Ask a friend to come over and keep you company.

Any form of help seems like a blessing at the time of illness. To aid with timely medicine administration, you can download our medication reminder app iMEDtracker available at both Android Play store and Apple store. It will notify you when your next dose is due.

How do you prevent food poisoning?

Everyone knows prevention is better than cure, and it is. It is always better to exercise caution and ensure proper hygiene while handling food. Little things like thorough hand washing and appropriate cleanups can reduce chances of contamination by many folds.

Here are some ways to prevent food contamination:

  • Properly cooking food all the way through, particularly meat, poultry and eggs. Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat and ensure that the required cooking temperature has been achieved.

 

  • Immediate refrigeration and storage of leftover food. This will prevent the growth of bacteria and viruses in the food when left out as the warmer temperature is a contributing factor for contamination.

 

  • Raw fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before eating. Rinse well with water to remove extra dirt, pesticides, toxins or other infectious agents on the surface.

 

  • Clean counters and other kitchen areas that are used to assemble, clean and prepare food. For example, cutting boards and knives should be washed after every use. This will reduce chances of cross contamination.

 

  • When eating out make sure you order well cooked food. Not all restaurants maintain the same standard of hygiene or cooking.

You know what they say, eat clean and live clean. Treat your food with respect and it will respect your body!

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