Food Poisoning

Sometimes when we consume contaminated food or drinks we may experience food poisoning. It is usually relatively harmless but can it can turn to into a deadly illness. Common symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.

These symptoms will usually occur 48 hours after consuming the contaminated food or drink. Symptoms such as bloody stool, fever, chills can occur afterwards depending on the level of contamination.

People usually recover quickly from most types of food poisoning and they have very few symptoms. There are over 250 diseases that can be transmitted through food though

The two main causes for food poisoning are infectious agents and toxic agents.

Infectious agents are the ones that include viruses, bacteria’s and parasites.

Toxic agents are the ones that include poisonous mushrooms and exotics food that are not prepared accordingly (sushi), and pesticides on unwashed fruits and vegetables.

Most of the time, contaminated food is the result of improper handling and bad sanitation. Food handlers who do not wash their hands after retuning to work are a common cause for food poisoning.

Food poisoning symptoms vary depending on the type of agents, infectious or toxic, and the amount ingested. They can develop as early as 30 minutes after consuming the food or very slowly dragging on for days and weeks. Viruses are the biggest cause of food poisoning where a specific contaminant is found.

Noroviruses cause mild illness such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headaches and fever. Generally these viruses are mild, and only last a few days after the food poisoning has occurred. They occur from water, shellfish and vegetable contaminated by feces.

Rotavirus: this virus causing mild illness is mostly present in children and infants through play areas and fecal contamination. The symptoms are vomiting followed watery diarrhea and fever

Hepatitis A: a more serious virus with symptoms lasting for about 2 months with the possibility of it extending for a longer period of time. The virus is again transmitted from human to human through fecal contamination. It causes loss of appetite, abdominal pain and a feeling of tiredness.

Bacteria can also cause food poisoning in two different ways. It either causes difficulty in absorbing nutrients by invading the intestines, which in turn leads to diarrhea. Some bacteria can also produces chemicals which are harmful to the human digestive system causing nausea, vomiting, kidney failure and also death.

Parasites can also sometimes cause food poisoning but they are usually rare. They are swallowed in contaminated water and cause long lasting but mild symptoms.

Toxic agents cause less food poisoning but are usually isolated cases of bad food preparation. The most common toxic agents are poisonous mushrooms and eating sushi that was not well prepared. Eating fruits and vegetables that have not been washed after been sprayed with pesticides also causes food poisoning.

Most of the time food poisoning which includes vomiting and diarrhea can be taken care of with home treatment:

1. Do not eat solid foods when vomiting but drink plenty of liquids

2. Tea with lemons and ginger can be used to get rid of the symptoms

After the vomiting and nausea has stopped it is recommended you eat plain foods in small amounts such are rice, wheat, bread and potatoes.

You should seek medical care when:

1. You have nausea, diarrhea and have been vomiting for more than two days

2. Other family members who ate the same thing are also sick

3. You are sick after a recent trip abroad

4. You cannot keep liquids down

5. Your situation does not improved after two days even if you are drinking a large amount of liquids

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