Food poisoning results when you eat food contaminated with bacteria or other pathogens such as parasites or viruses. Food poisoning can also occur when a person eats foods that are not readily prepared or foods that are not handled well during the process of preparing them.
Most such infections go undiagnosed and unreported. According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention, it has been estimated that each year, about 75 million people in the United States become ill from pathogens in food, and about 5,OOO of them die. Over 55% of such cases are caused by improper cooking and storage of foods, and 24% by poor hygiene, such as not washing your hands while preparing food. Only 3% of cases are from unsafe food sources. So, keeping your hands clean while working with food can be the single most important thing you can do to prevent food poisoning.
About 20 organisms can cause food poisoning. After eating contaminated food with bacteria, they will multiply in the stomach and bowels. Some bacteria give off a toxin when they multiply. As a result, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea occur. Vomiting and diarrhea are regarded as the body’s way of eliminating the toxin. Most cases of food poisoning run their course without needing medical attention.
The main causes of food poisoning are:
This is the most common cause of food poisoning. Bacteria are tiny bugs that live in the air, in water, in soil, on and in people, in and on food. Some bacteria cause illness. They are called PATHOGENIC bacteria. Some bacteria cause food to rot and decay, they are called SPOILAGE bacteria. There are four things that bacteria need in order to grow, *f,i.f, are warmth, time, food and moisture. They need water and most foods have enough water or moisture to let the bacteria thrive. Some bacteria can form a hard protective case around themselves, this is called a SPORE. This happens when the ‘going gets tough’ when it gets too hot or too dry. So they are able to survive very hot or cold temperatures and can even be present in dried foods. Once the right conditions (5 – 63c) return, the spore comes out of its protective casing and becomes a growing, food poisoning bacteria again.
These are smaller than bacteria, and are normally found in water. They are microscopic particles transmitted by food which may cause illness. For example, Hepatitis A (jaundice). Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot multiply or Srow in food.
These are single-celled organisms which live in water and are responsible for serious diseases such as malaria, usually spread by infected mosquitoes and dysentery.
E Coli is a norma! part of the intestines of man and animals. lt is found in human excreta and raw meat. E Coli causes abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. High standards of hygiene and thorough cooking of foods must be applied. Raw and cooked meat must be stored at the correct temperature and cross contamination must be avoided.
Salmonella is present in the intestines of animals and human beings. Foods affected include poultry, meat, eggs, and shellfish.
Others include metals such as lead pipes, copper pans; chemicals such as insecticides and weed- killers poisonous plants such as toadstools, red kidney beans (insufficiently cooked).
Prevention measures should include the following:
- good standards of personal hygiene
- elimination of insects and rodents
- washing hands, equipment and surfaces after handling raw poultry
- not allowing carriers of the disease to handle food
- protecting food from bacteria in the air by keeping foods covered.
- store cooked and uncooked foods separately.
- do not keep foods in the danger zone of between 5c and 63c for longer than absolutely necessary.
- to kill bacteria, subject bacteria to a temperature of 77c for 30 seconds or a higher temperature for less time. Certain bacteria develop into spores and can withstand higher temperatures for longer periods of time. Certain chemicals also kill bacteria and can be used for cleaning equipment and utensils.
- complying with the rules of hygiene
- taking care and thinking ahead
- ensuring that high standards of cleanliness are applied to premises and equipment
- preventing accidents
- physical fitness
- maintaining good working conditions
- maintaining equipment in good repair and clean condition
- using separate equipment and knives for cooked and uncooked foods
- ample provision of cleaning facilities and equipment
- storing foods at the right temperature
- safe reheating of foods
- quick cooling of foods prior to storage
- protection of foods from vermin and insects
- hygienic washing-up procedures
- knowing how food poison is caused
- carrying out procedures to prevent food poisoning.
FOOD POISONING SYMPTOMS
The symptoms of food poisoning include the following depending on the type of poison. lt is an acute illness, usually sudden, brought about by eating contaminated or poisonous food. This can occur immediately or within several hours after the individual had taken the food. The symptoms include dehydration, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, pains in the bowl (gripping pains in the area of the stomach), diarrhea, fever, stomach ache and dizziness.
Critical Poisoning Effects of Food
Some instances of food contamination with poison are not dangerous and can end within a short time. However, if a person experiences the following symptoms, he should seek medical attention as soon as possible:
- High level of dizziness.
- lncreased breathing rate or heartbeat
- Experiencing visual disturbances
- Having a problem in speaking
- Paralyzed muscles
The elder people, babies, the people with immune complications, and the pregnant women are more prone to showing severe symptoms of food poison. These symptoms show that the person had a severe poison to their food and should be treated in the shortest time otherwise; the condition can result in other problems or even cause death.
Remedies to Poisoned Foods
With the facts about food poisoning and its symptoms that been known, it is important to know how to deal with the problem of food poisoning. The following are some of the remedies to food poison that can help the person in this condition:
Rest: Eating poisoned food can make the body of the individual weak. Therefore it is important for the person to have enough rest.
Lemon juice: Let the person take this juice. lt will help in killing most of the bacteria that had caused the poisoning.
Bananas: Give the person bananas as their potassium energy helps in recovering. However, the person is not supposed to take more than two bananas and especially if he is having diarrhea.
Ginger juice: Mix it with a tablespoon of honey; it will help in treating complications with the digestive system.
Avoid taking any medication without doctor’s approval.
Try taking water, coconut water, or Gatorade in plenty but in small sips to avoid dehydration.
HOW LONG DOES FOOD POISONING LAST?
lf you have ever had food poisoning then chances are you feel sick to your stomach. How do you know you had you ate or drank something that poisoned you? Generally, food poisoning affects a group of people. lf you have consumed the same foods with a group of people and now you are all suffering from the same gastronomic distress, then you may be suffering from food or fluid poisoning.
Remember you may suffer from only a few of the symptoms or all of the symptoms. Generally, symptoms come on within 48 hours after eating or drinking the contaminated foods/drinks.
FOOD POISONING OR STOMACH FLU
Nobody likes getting sick, but the stomach flu delivers its own brutal mix of symptoms. When it hits, it can quickly render you nonfunctional and utterly miserable (i.e., lying on the bathroom floor within constant reach of the sink or toilet). The initial stages start with chills, fever. And nausea, which transitions into vomiting, diarrhea, and severe aches and pains. lt’s awful, and there is no cure. Stomach flu has to run its course. The remedies below may provide relief from the most difficult symptoms and help get you back on your feet once the toughest phase subsides.
- Drink lots of fluids
- Try eating the BRAT diet (banana’s, rice, applesauce, and toast )
- Try acupressure to reduce nausea
- Get plenty of rest
- Medicate with caution
However, there are differences between the stomach flu and food poisoning. These include:
The “stomach flu” is caused by a virus. Also known as viral gastroenteritis, the colloquial usage of the word “flu” to describe the illness is somewhat misleading. Gastroenteritis is unrelated to influenza, that widespread affliction we hear about every year that affects the nose and throat, so a flu shot is useless against it. Viruses that cause gastroenteritis include the rotavirus, adenovirus, and – most commonly – the norovirus. The stomach flu is incredibly contagious.
Food poisoning, on the other hand, develops after consuming food that has been contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites due to improper handling, preparation, or storage. Common bacteria causing food poisoning include Salmonella and E. coli.
Onset and duration differ.
Though it may feel like a lightning storm, the stomach flu generally has an incubation period of one to two days following exposure, and passes from family member to family member with some overlap. The effects tend to linger for two to three days.
Food poisoning, which can manifest within hours of eating contaminated food, is associated more with a sudden onset of symptoms and a quicker rebound. Occasionally, symptoms do not show up until weeks after dining.
While largely the same for both the stomach flu and food poisoning – have subtle variations. Unpleasant, but non-threatening, symptoms such as dull aches and headache are more common with gastroenteritis. However, one serious symptom, in particular – bloody stools – is not associated with stomach bugs, but can signify a serious bacterial infection, like E.Coli, and should prompt immediate medical attention.
Complications can be much more severe with food poisoning, and even life-threatening in rare cases. lf you believe your child may have eaten contaminated food, do not hesitate to contact your pediatric provider.
The most common danger with stomach flu and food poisoning is dehydration and is the leading cause of hospitalization with both illnesses. The replenishment of fluids is essential to a swift recovery.
Stomach illnesses are entirely unpleasant, but they can also be terrifying for parents of young children. lf you have concerns, reach out to a doctor for advice.