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Know the basics

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is the condition caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms that involves bacteria, viruses and parasites or their toxins are the most popular causes of food poisoning. It’s not usually serious and most people get better within a few days without treatment.

How common is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

The common signs and symptoms of food poisoning are:

  • Nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea;
  • Abdominal pain and cramps;
  • Fever;
  • Lack of energy and weakness;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Aching muscles;
  • Chills.

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Frequent vomiting and inability to keep liquids down;
  • Bloody vomit or stools;
  • Diarrhea for more than three days;
  • Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping;
  • An oral temperature higher than 101.5 F (38.6 C);
  • Excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness;
  • Blurry vision, muscle weakness and tingling in the arms.

Know the causes

What causes food poisoning?

You can have food poisoning if you eat contaminated food or drink contaminated water. During processing or production of food, food can be contaminated at any point such as growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or preparing. The transfer of harmful organisms from one surface to another is often the cause. If you eat that aren’t cooked like salads or other produce, harmful organisms aren’t destroyed before eating and can cause food poisoning.

Many bacterial, viral or parasitic agents are also responsible for food poisoning. Viruses is the leading cause, then the bacteria.

Toxins is another thing to blame. They can be either produced by bacteria on or in food or produced by plants and animals/fish or other organisms that are ingested. Besides, toxin can also be certain chemicals that may cause food poisoning.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for food poisoning?

There are many risk factors for food poisoning, such as:

  • Older adults. Your immune system is lower in responding to infectious organisms as when you get older and older.
  • Pregnant women. Pregnancy can lead to changes in metabolism and circulation, which contributes to the risk of food poisoning. Your reaction may be more severe during pregnancy.
  • Infants and young children. Their immune systems haven’t fully developed.
  • People with chronic disease, such as diabetes, liver disease or AIDS.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is food poisoning diagnosed?

How food poisoning is often depends on your detailed history, including how long you’ve been sick, what your symptoms are what you have eaten. Your doctor will also perform a physical exam to check if there are signs of dehydration. From this, your doctor may conduct diagnostic tests, such as a blood test, stool culture or examination for parasites, to determine what causes the disease and confirm the diagnosis.

After getting your stool, your doctor will send a sample of them to a laboratory to identify the infectious organism. In some cases, the cause of food poisoning can’t be identified.

How is food poisoning treated?

For most people, the illness goes away without treatment within a few days, though some types of food poisoning may last longer. However, if you don’t recover from the illness, based on the cause of your illness and the severity of your symptom, your doctor can choose the treatment for you.

The doctor can recommend replacement of lost fluids. Fluids and electrolytes, including minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in your body that are lost to persistent diarrhea need to be replaced. It can be salts and fluids through a vein to prevent or treat dehydration.

Antibiotics is also used in case you have certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning and your symptoms are severe. During pregnancy, prompt antibiotic treatment may prevent the baby from infection.

If your diarrhea isn’t bloody or you don’t have a fever, the doctor can require you to take the medication loperamide (Imodium A-D) or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol).

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage food poisoning?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with food poisoning:

  • Let your stomach settle. You shouldn’t eat and drink for a few hours.
  • Try sucking on ice chips or taking small sips of water. Clear soda, clear broth or non-caffeinated sports drinks, such as Gatorade are good choices.
  • Ease back into eating. It is suggested that you can gradually begin to eat bland, low-fat, easy-to-digest foods, such as soda crackers, toast, gelatin, bananas and rice.
  • The illness and dehydration can weaken and tire you, that’s why you need to take rest.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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