What Causes Food Poisoning? Its Symptom, Prevention And Treatment

Food poisoning occurs when contaminated food is ingested. Food can be contaminated by bacteria, virus or parasites or their toxins. Contamination occurs due to unhygienic handling of food.

Food poisoning is characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Many a times symptoms resolve on their own but severe cases need medication and if necessary hospitalization.

  • Foods can get contaminated during production or processing or cooking or during its storage.
  • If food is not cooked properly at right temperature it can get contaminated. Especially raw meat if remains uncooked may get easily contaminated.
  • Food that is kept at room temperature for long time gets contaminated.
  • Using the food items which have crossed its expiry date.
  • Handling of food by sick person may contaminate the food.
  • Cross contamination is the most prominent cause of food poisoning.
  • Salmonella, E-coli, Listeria and Campylobacter are the common bacteria that cause food poisoning.
  • Infants, pregnant women, older people or people with chronic disease are more likely to suffer from food poisoning due to lowered immunity.

Symptom Of Food Poisoning

Symptoms begin within few hours to fifteen days after consumption of contaminated food.

  • Patient will have nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
  • Patient will have spasmodic pain in abdomen.
  • Frequent watery stools (diarrhea).
  • It may be associated with fever and chills.

Complications: The most common complication of food poisoning is dehydration due to depletion of water, salt and minerals. One may require hospitalization if one cannot retain anything due to persistent vomiting and watery diarrhea.

How To Prevent And Treat Food Poisoning?

Replacement of body fluids is the most important step in the treatment of food poisoning. Patient must take sips of electrolyte solution at regular intervals to maintain level of water, salt and minerals in the body. If electrolyte solution is not available on can mix a pinch of salt and one tablespoon of sugar in a glass of water and take sips every fifteen minutes to prevent dehydration.

  • If symptoms are severe one may need hospitalization for intravenous fluid replacement. Course of antibiotic may be necessary to combat infection. Anti-spasmodic medicines will help to relieve pain in abdomen.
  • Eat light food. Avoid spicy and oily food for few days.
  • Suck ice cube to relieve vomiting.
  • Mix one teaspoon of ginger juice with lemon juice, sugar and little water. Take half teaspoon of this mixture after every one hour. This helps to reduce nausea and vomiting. It improves appetite and digestion.
  • Drink juice of pomegranate to get relief from diarrhea.
  • Cook food items thoroughly at correct temperature.
  • Store food in the fridge at correct temperature. Before consuming stored food if possible boil it properly.
  • While storing keep raw meat away from other food items.
  • If in doubt discard the food immediately.
  • Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before using.
  • Wash your hands properly before handling food.
  • Wash utensils and surfaces with hot water and soap before and after cooking.

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