Food Poisoning


Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is in fact a foodborne disease which occurs on swallowing water or food containing viruses, bacteria, prions, toxins, parasites, infectious or chemical agents. In addition to these, it also occurs due to consuming of poisonous animals like puffer-fish and poisonous plants like some mushrooms.

The common causes for food poisoning are the E. coli or Staphylococcus bacteria. The signs of food poisoning are usually notice 4-36 hours following a contaminated meal. On an average, a minimum of 76 million people are affected by food poisoning and more so during summer season as food not stored in cool conditions acts a breeding ground for bacteria.

Food Poisoning Causes

Food poisoning can affect anyone who had a contaminated meal and usually occurs at picnics, restaurants, social functions and cafeterias. The germs that contaminate the food may enter the food by various means. Unhygienic handling of food items in restaurants, homes or grocery stores is the most common way of food contamination.

Also, water used during shipping or growing may contain human waste or manure that spoils the food. In case of meat or poultry, the normal bacteria present in the animal’s intestines can get mixed while processing.

The most common causes of food poisoning after drinking or eating are as follows:

  • Not using proper techniques for hand washing.
  • Using cooking utensils, tools and cutting boards that are not clean.
  • Oysters or raw fish
  • Raw vegetables or fruits that are not washed properly.
  • Not storing refrigerated or frozen foods at proper temperature.
  • Undercooked eggs or meats.
  • Dairy products not stored at cold temperatures.
  • Untreated water from stream, well or town water.

Food poisoning is caused by various media like E. coli enteritis, Salmonella, Shingella, Yersinia, Fish poisoning, Listeria, Cholera, Campylobacter enteritis, Botulism, Staphylococcus aureus and many different viruses. Individuals with weak immune system, diabetes and kidney disease are prone to food poisoning as are elderly people and infants. Breast-feeding and pregnant women should also be careful with their diet to evade food poisoning.

Food Poisoning v/s Stomach Flu

Food poisoning and stomach flu have the similar signs but these differ depending on the agents that lead to the condition. Food poisoning is caused due to eating of contaminated food whereas stomach flu includes the upsetting of stomach not only due to contaminated food but also non-food mechanisms like body secretions. Stomach flu is usually referred as viral gastroenteritis and is not a specific term. It usually indicates an illness usually lasting for 24 hours at maximum.

Stomach flu is caused by adenovirus, rotavirus or Norwalk virus which are commonly found affecting children. Stomach flu is considered food poisoning if many people eating the same food fall ill. Norwalk virus is the leading cause of most food borne illness cases on cruise ships.

Mild Food Poisoning Signs

The most common and obvious signs of mild famous food poisoning include stomach pain, loss of appetite, upset stomach and minor gastrointestinal disorders like vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. In some cases, the patient suffers from high temperature due too. The symptoms of mild food poisoning can be noticed immediately after eating toxic foods or several days later too. Because of the similarities in symptoms, mild food poisoning is usually confused with stomach flu. However, stomach flu is caused due to viral or bacterial infection.

Food Poisoning Signs and Symptoms in Children

The signs and symptoms of food poisoning differ in children based on the various causes. The signs range from mild food poisoning to severe complications. The various symptoms noticed in children affected with food poisoning are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Stomach ache
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Blurred vision
  • Speech problems
  • Weakness
  • Respiratory paralysis
  • Painful abdominal cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Chills with high temperature

Food Poisoning Signs and Symptoms in Adults

The food poisoning symptoms vary in accordance with the type of bacteria that contaminated the food consumed. The list of signs of food poisoning is as follows which slightly differs from that of food poisoning signs noticed in children:

  • Chest pain
  • Weak pulse rate
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Cold skin
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shallow breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pale skin
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Fever, minus any shivers or chills
  • Blood in bowel movement
  • Sticky saliva
  • Excessive and frequent thirst
  • Little or no urination
  • Numbness or tingling in the limbs
  • Aching muscles

Food Poisoning Treatment

An individual suffering from food poisoning should avoid eating solid food and instead should opt for clear liquids, fluids and electrolytes like potassium, sodium, chloride and magnesium. The stomach needs a thorough cleaning in case of consuming certain toxins like those from shellfish or mushrooms. Some doctors advise that antibiotics should be avoided as this prolongs diarrhea. Based on the cause, symptoms, signs and severity of the condition, various drugs that can be prescribed include the following:

  • Oral rehydration therapy or use of electrolytes
  • Antitoxins can be given in the initial 72 hours
  • Atropine
  • Amitriptyline
  • Ipecac syrup
  • Apomorphine
  • Mannitol
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Cimetidine
  • Antibiotics

Food Poisoning Signs and Symptoms in Dogs

Food poisoning in dogs is caused to a range of factors including food, chemicals, pesticides and plants. Here is a list of symptoms noticed in dogs suffering from food poisoning:

  • Skin rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Staggering
  • Mouth irritation
  • Bleeding
  • Muscle tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart failure
  • Sensitive to noise or light
  • Hallucinations
  • Breathing problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems

Try keeping the dog away from various toxins and chemicals as this is the best way to avoid food poisoning.



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