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Home :: Digestive Disorders

Food Poisoning


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Food Poisoning is defined as a condition resulting from eating contaminated foods or consuming poisoned berries, mushrooms etc. The commonest cause of food poisoning is stale decomposed food which is contaminated by bacteria.

Food poisoning is defined as an illness caused by the consumption of food or water contaminated with bacteria and/or their toxins, parasites, viruses, or chemicals. Many persons who think they have the flu or a virus are really victims of mild cases of food poisoning, caused by bacteria and viruses found in food. You may have had mild food poisoning -with diarrhea and an upset stomach - but your mom or dad just called it a stomach bug or stomach virus. Many people have had first-hand experience of how unpleasant food poisoning can be, even for a fit and healthy person. And sometimes food poisoning can cause serious illness. Worldwide, diarrheal illnesses are among the leading causes of death. Travelers to developing countries often encounter food poisoning in the form of traveler's diarrhea or "Montezuma's revenge." Additionally, there are new global threats to the world's food supply through terrorist actions using food toxins as weapons It's confusing, but one thing is for sure the bacteria in the rotten leftovers weren't good for you. But you can learn how to avoid those bad germs in food.

Food poisoning is the result of eating organisms or toxins in contaminated food You might think the solution is to get rid of all the bacteria. But it isn't possible and you wouldn't want to do it, even if you could. Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea that come on suddenly (within 48 hours) of consuming a contaminated food or drink. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States alone, food poisoning causes about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths each year. May also be caused by metals and chemicals. Positive diagnosis has to be carried out by a pathology laboratory. Particularly vulnerable to these infections are young children, the elderly, pregnant women (because of the risk to the fetus), and persons with chronic or serious illnesses, whose immune systems are already weakened.

Causes of Food Poisoning

The common Causes of Food Poisoning :

  • Toxic agents include poisonous mushrooms, improperly prepared exotic foods (such as barracuda), or pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated if they are washed or irrigated with water that is contaminated with animal manure or human sewage. Staph food poisoning and shigellosis are often spread through contaminated water.
  • Even though food poisoning is relatively rare in the United States, it affects between 60 and 80 million people worldwide each year and results in approximately 6 to 8 million deaths.
  • Normally found in warm-blooded animals such as cattle, poultry, and swine and may be present in raw meat, poultry, eggs, or unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Other common causes include salmonella, listeria, shigella and clostridia.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Some are common Symptoms of Food Poisoning :

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Abdominal pain and/or cramping
  • Malaise (general uneasiness)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Malaise (general uneasiness)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness (may be serious and lead to respiratory arrest, as in the case of botulism)

Treatment of Food Poisoning

Here is the list of the methods for treating Food Poisoning :

  • The most common treatment for simple food poisoning is simply supportive care at home with clear liquids to stay hydrated, and after vomiting or diarrhea subside, the gradual return to eating beginning with a bland diet (such as rice, bread, potatoes and milk).
  • The doctor may also treat any fever to make you more comfortable.
  • Antivomiting and diarrhea medications may be given.
  • Most food poisonings do not require the use of over-the-counter medicines to stop diarrhea, but they are generally safe if used as directed.
  • In more severe cases, antibiotics (such as Cipro), if given early in the illness, can be used to shorten the length of time you are sick.
  • If you are found to have the infection, you will likely recover on your own without treatment within 2-5 days. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent becoming dehydrated.
  • Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are fine for adults if they are diluted with water because at full strength they contain too much sugar, which can worsen diarrhea.
  • With mushroom poisoning or eating foods contaminated with pesticides, aggressive treatment may include pumping the stomach (lavage) or giving medications as antidotes. These poisonings are very serious and may require intensive care in the hospital.