Your complete guide on what is food poisoning!
Most Indians have an extraordinary liking for street foods. The spicy tangy flavourful snacks served by vendors have a special place in our hearts. When you have such appetizing options, you will not be a fan of bland food. However, there is one thing worse than eating bland and boring meals – food poisoning. This article explores what is food poisoning along with its symptoms, causes and treatment.
Food borne illnesses are highly common in India with a prevalence of nearly 13% at a household level. Food poisoning symptoms are seldom overlooked as they impact your levels of comfort and everyday tasks. Let us begin by understanding the meaning of food poisoning.
What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is a common foodborne illness. It is caused when you consume contaminated or spoiled food items. Contamination happens when food items get exposed to infectious organisms such as viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Mostly, these organisms are killed when food is cleaned and cooked properly. These infectious organisms are able to access your digestive system when you consume uncooked or raw eatables.
Food poisoning is a common condition that can impact anyone, irrespective of their age and gender.
What are the symptoms of food poisoning?
There is a wide range of ailments that target your stomach and digestion. It can be slightly difficult to distinguish them from one other. For instance, the symptoms of stomach flu and food poisoning often overlap. Stomach flu, however, is caused by viruses. Due to this overlapping, it is significant to learn about the signs and symptoms of food poisoning.
Common signs and symptoms of food poisoning include:
- Pain and cramping in the abdomen
- Mild to moderate fever
- Loss of appetite
You should ensure to consult a healthcare provider if you experience any of the above-given symptoms. There are several life-threatening food poisoning symptoms that require immediate medical intervention.
See a healthcare provider immediately if:
- Your diarrhea persists longer than 3 days
- You have a high-grade fever
- You feel difficulty in communicating
- You have severe dehydration and dry mouth
- You see blood in your stool or urine
- You are not able to drink any fluids
- You have blurry vision
What are the causes of food poisoning?
Primarily, food poisoning is caused by the consumption of toxic and contaminated food. Three types of organisms are accountable for this illness – bacteria, parasites and viruses.
Almost all food products can be targeted by these organisms. The contamination of food is possible at any stage starting from its production till cooking. These infectious agents are present at several surfaces and can transfer from one surface to another.
While everyone is vulnerable to being affected by food poisoning, some people are at a higher risk than others. The groups of people at an increased risk for this illness include older adults, infants, young children, pregnant women and chronically ill people.
What is the food poisoning cure?
Food poisoning cure is its effective and early treatment. Several treatment methods are available for the treatment of food poisoning. However, a precise diagnosis is the first step towards a food poisoning cure.
Your doctor will ask about your medical history. A detailed discussion on the symptoms and their length is mostly enough for healthcare providers to draw a diagnosis.
You can expect to have a physical health checkup. Your doctor will ask you about the food items you must have consumed recently to find out the possible source of contamination. Your healthcare provider may indicate a variety of tests including blood workup, stool sample culture test and more.
Your doctor will offer a relevant treatment method based on your diagnosis and the source of food poisoning.
Since food poisoning can trigger diarrhea and vomiting, you may lose excess body fluids. Your doctor will ask you to drink as many fluids as possible. He/she may prescribe consuming electrolytes to compensate for the loss of fluids. Nevertheless, some foods and beverages such as alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods should be restricted.
You will also be asked to monitor your meals. Avoid eating food products that may trigger your symptoms further. You will be asked to eat bland and easy to digest foods.
Additionally, your doctor will prescribe relevant medicines to alleviate your symptoms and offer instant relief. Mostly, sufficient rest and careful measures are enough to resolve food poisoning.
What is the prevention of food poisoning?
A proactive and healthy lifestyle can help you in the prevention of food poisoning. Here are some expert-approved home remedies you should implement to avoid this illness:
- Wash your hands frequently: You can unknowingly transfer infectious agents from the surfaces to your mouth. To avoid food poisoning, wash your hands frequently, especially before and after eating your meals.
- Clean your surroundings: The best way to avoid the growth of infections is to keep your surroundings neat and clean. You should sanitise the surfaces which are touched most often.
- Store your food items separately: Contaminants can shift from one food to another. After shopping, make sure to store raw and ready-to-eat food products separately.
- Cook your food properly: Uncooked food is a good source of foodborne illnesses. You should make sure to cook your food thoroughly at a moderate temperature.
- Refrigerate your food: Some food items such as meat, poultry and eggs are more likely to get contaminated. You should refrigerate them separately and properly right after purchase.
- Wash your utensils: Needless to say, you should be sure to clean your utensils properly to avoid the transfer of germs.
What are the complications of food poisoning?
A severe and persistent case of food poisoning can further worsen your health. The most common complications of this illness are:
- Dehydration: Food poisoning can cause excessive loss of fluids. Along with the fluids, the salts and minerals necessary for bodily function also go down, significantly. Severe dehydration can lead to dizziness and even unconsciousness.
- Infection: If food poisoning worsens, it can also lead to various infections. Some of these infections are fatal in pregnant women and can also cause birthing complications.
The concluding note
It is not very complex to grasp the idea of what is food poisoning. To put it briefly, food poisoning is a common digestive illness caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites. You should focus on cleaning yourself and your surroundings clean to avoid the transfer of germs.
Book an appointment with Dr Mayank Madan, a leading GI surgeon at the CK Birla Hospital to know more about food poisoning and other stomach-related issues.
Ques: How do I know if it’s food poisoning or stomach virus?
Ans: Stomach viruses are only caused by viruses and affect in 24 hours. Food poisoning can be the result of viruses, bacteria or parasites. It affects almost immediately within 2-6 hrs.
Ques: When should I go to the doctor for food poisoning?
Ans: Seek urgent medical help if you have these symptoms – blood in your vomit, blurry vision, diarrhea for more than 3 days, extreme pain or cramps and fever over 101.5°F.
Ques: How can I recover from food poisoning fast?
Ans: You should drink water or electrolyte solution and avoid solid foods to recover from food poisoning quickly.
Ques: Which doctor to consult for food poisoning?
Ans: You should seek medical help from a qualified gastroenterologist in case of food poisoning.