Food poisoning is a common inflammation of the digestive organs that occurs as a result of ingesting contaminated food. What are your symptoms and what can be done in case of food poisoning?

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning is a common inflammation of the digestive system. It occurs as a result of the ingestion of food or other substances that are contaminated with pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites, among others).

How can I detect food poisoning?

The food poisoning is commonly manifests with symptoms such as digestive problems, usually 24 hours after ingestion of contaminated food occur. These are abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other signs of food poisoning can include fever or extreme tiredness.

Symptoms of food poisoning usually last a day, but can last up to a week.

Causes of food poisoning

There are numerous pathogens that can cause food poisoning. The  bacterial infection  is the most common. Salmonella, Staphylococci, Escherichia coli (commonly known as E. coli), and Campylobacter jejuni are among the bacteria most commonly transmitted by contaminated food, causing food poisoning.

Even some viruses can trigger food poisoning. This applies to norovirus, hepatitis A virus, and hepatitis E virus, which are spread through dirty water. Parasites (especially Giardia lamblia), fungi, prions, and toxins are also potential causes of food poisoning.

Depending on the causes of food poisoning, the incubation period can range from a few hours to several days.


Treatment, therapy and duration: what can be done in case of food poisoning?

In most cases, food poisoning clears up on its own after a few days without treatment. However, taking medication can help reduce the duration of unpleasant food poisoning symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting.

Therefore, antibiotics can be taken for diarrhea, or spasmolytics in the case of a strong bacterial infection. It is also recommended to take solutions of water and salt to hydrogenate and avoid solid foods.

In some more severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to treat food poisoning. This is especially the case when the infection affects weak people such as the elderly or people with poor immune systems.

To prevent food poisoning from being contagious to others, attention should be paid to hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly.

Measures to prevent food poisoning

The World Health Organization has documented all known cases of food poisoning since 1998 and analyzed which foods were most likely to be contaminated by Salmonella, Norovirus, or Staph. The result: Eating chicken, beef, and pork, as well as sandwiches, rice, pizza, and green salads often leads to food poisoning.

This can be explained by the fact that Salmonella can multiply particularly well in these foods due to improper storage, or due to improper preparation in or on the product.

Here are some steps to prevent food from becoming a health threat:

  • Hygiene:  Because sick people can transmit pathogens to foods such as sandwiches, if they do not wash their hands well before preparation, it is particularly important to pay attention to the necessary hygiene. Before preparing food, or after contact with meat, hands should always be washed thoroughly.
  • Preparation:  If the meat is not heated enough, Salmonella can multiply in it. To kill bacteria in meat, therefore, all types of meat must be heated for at least ten minutes to more than 70 degrees.
  • Storage:  For rice and pizza, storage plays an important role. Rice should be stored cool, as bacteria can multiply particularly well at temperatures between 7 and 50 degrees. The situation is similar with pizza. Scientists have found that staph multiply on pizzas when stored at temperatures around 4 degrees. Therefore, pizza should always be stored in the freezer.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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