Food poisoning or food-borne illness can be defined as any illness due to consumption of contaminated food. This type of poisoning can be mild, but it can also be deadly. It is important that if you display symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping within 48 hours of consuming food, you should consult your physician immediately.
Food Poisoning: has two categories. It can either be infectious agents or toxic agents. When we talk about infectious agents, these include viruses, bacteria and parasites. Toxic agents, however, are naturally-poisonous foods such as some types of mushrooms, or improperly prepared food that carries poisons such as the fish barracuda, or fruits and vegetables sprayed with chemicals. More often than not, a food becomes contaminated because of improper preparation or sanitation. Other reasons for food poisoning also include food that is not packaged properly and is stored at the wrong temperature.
Food Poisoning Symptoms
Food poisoning symptoms can start developing in 30 minutes or take several days. Most often, there is the presence of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. However, it is important to seek medical attention when these situations occur:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea for more than two days.
- The affected person is less than 3 years old.
- Low-grade fever.
- Most of the people who ate the same food are sick.
- The person affected cannot maintain liquids.
- The poisoned person has a disease or illness such as cancer, HIV, AIDS, or kidney disease.
- The person affected is having slurred speech, weakness, difficulty in swallowing, or double vision.
Mild food poisoning symptoms
Mild food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea for less than 24 hours can be managed at home.
Here are some tips for managing mild symptoms:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid alcohol or sugar based drinks. Pedialyte® and Rehydralyte® can be good for children. For adults, Gatorade® and Powerade® can help in the rehydration process, but they do contain some sugar. Eat slowly. Do not eat during episodes of vomiting or nausea. Take small amounts of food during meals. Avoid eating oily or fatty food; bread, rice, apples or toasts are good for managing diarrhea. If you are not lactose intolerant, you can drink milk. Do not self-medicate. Although there are medicines available as over-the-counter drugs, be sure to consult with your physician as these might only cure diarrhea, but not the underlying cause which is food poisoning. Remember not to give medications to your children without first consulting your physicians, as children have a lower tolerance.
Preventing Food Poisoning
It is always recommended that foods should be handled, cooked and stored properly to avoid food contamination. Here are some tips for keeping your food safe:
- When you buy foods, buy the cold foods last and bring them home as quickly as you can.
- Always buy properly packed foods.
- Always check the expiration dates.
- Raw meat and poultry should be separated from other foods.
- Refrigerate foods properly. Meat, poultry, or fish should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
- Do not store fresh foods for more than 2 days.
- Prepare foods in a clean manner.
- Wash food properly before cooking.
Disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites are impossible to be see. It is not only important that we eat the right kind of food but we should also take time in preparing them. One of the dangers of eating freshly prepared food like fruits or vegetable salads is food poisoning. We should always be careful of the things we put in our body. A few minutes spent preparing or checking the expiration date of ready-to-eat meals is nothing compared to the dangerous complications of food poisoning.
Written by Ronald Uy, RN
© 2011 H.I.C. Digestive Health – Hemorhoid Information Center
Food Poisoning. Retrieved October 27, 2009 from emedicinehealth: http://www.emedicinehealth.com
Digestive Diseases: Food Poisoning: Retrieved October 27, 2009 from Medicine.Net.com: http://www.medicinenet.com
Food Poisoning. Retrieved October 28,2009 from University of Virginia: http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu