Food Poisoning - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Food poisoning, also known as food-borne illness, is a health condition that occurs due to eating toxic, spilled, or contaminated food. Symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The causative agents can be viruses, bacteria, protozoa, or toxins. They can contaminate the food at any stage of processing or cooking. Moreover, it can also get contaminated at home if the right and hygienic conditions are not followed. Generally, it goes away on its own. But sometimes, you need to take an antibiotic or an antiprotozoal drug if it remains for a long time. Mostly, it occurs when you eat food from a substandard place or restaurant where hygienic conditions are not met. 


Symptoms 


The symptoms of food poisoning vary according to the causative agent. Mostly they show the following signs and symptoms;


  • Abdominal pain

  • Fever

  • Blood in the stool

  • Mucus in the stool

  • Loose, watery stools

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Bloating

  • Nausea

  • Urgent need to have a bowel movement

  • Fever 


The symptoms may begin after one hour of eating food. Or sometimes, they may even take days and weeks to show up. However, the sickness may take time to go. You may need to take medications to get rid of symptoms, especially nausea, vomiting, and fever. 


Food poisoning, if left untreated, can lead to life-threatening symptoms like;


  • Fever higher than 101.5°F

  • Difficulty seeing 

  • Difficulty speaking

  • Diarrhea that persists for more than 3 days

  • Dehydration


Symptoms of severe dehydration are; 


  • Dry mouth

  • Passing little to no urine

  • Difficulty keeping fluids down

  • Bloody urine


Causes


Food can get contaminated at any stage of processing. The germs can be transferred from one place to another, a term known as cross-contamination, which is often the cause of food poisoning. Mostly, it occurs with ready-to-eat, raw, and uncooked foods like salads and smoothies because they are not cooked at high temperatures where germs can die due to unsuitable conditions. Many bacteria, viruses, and protozoa can cause food poisoning. The causative agents can be listed as;


  • Bacillus cereus

  • Campylobacter jejuni

  • Clostridium botulinum

  • Clostridium perfringens

  • Escherichia coli

  • Listeria monocytogenes

  • Salmonella

  • Staphylococcus aureus

  • Vibrio vulnificus

  • Shigella

  • Rotavirus

  • Noroviruses

  • Listeria

  • Hepatitis A

  • Giardia lamblia


Risk factors 


Some factors play a role in causing food poisoning. The amount of food you have eaten, your age, the state of your immune system may gauge the kind of food poisoning you will have. High-risk groups for food poisoning are;


Older age- when you get old, your body may not respond as quickly to contaminated food as it used to be when you were young. 


Pregnancy- during pregnancy, circulation and metabolism changes have occurred. Due to this, food poisoning may occur faster than usual times. 


Chronic diseases- people having chronic diseases like AIDS, liver diseases, or diabetes may make your immune system weak and reduce its response. 


Prevention 


To prevent food poisoning, you must follow tips like;


  • Wash your hands before eating and even preparing food. 
  • Keep the utensils clean, dry, and covered. 
  • Keep raw food and ready-to-eat food separate. 
  • Do not keep food outside for a long time, especially when the weather is warm and humid.
  • In 2 hours of cooking, keep the food in the fridge. 
  • When doubt occurs about either the food is safe to eat or not, throw it away. Do not take risks.

Conclusion


Food poisoning, also known as food-borne illness, is a health condition that occurs due to eating toxic, spilled, or contaminated food. Symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The causative agents can be viruses, bacteria, protozoa, or toxins.


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