Monthly Archives: June 2016

Mild Food Poisoning

Mild food poisoning is a frequently manifested ailment, caused due to consumption of contaminated foods and drinks. To be more precise, food items are fouled by carelessness in cooking, storing, and preserving, which overall may cause bacterial growth and accumulation of toxins. Food poisoning is often a mild and short-term ailment, but at times, the symptoms may be severe and life-threatening, lasting for more than a week.

Causes

Mild food poisoning is caused by contamination either with infectious agents or toxic components. The former implies to disease causing microbes, such as bacteria (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli), viruses, and parasites; whereas, the latter represents non-edible or toxic food sources (e.g., pesticides, poisonous mushrooms) and improper cooking of certain food items. In majority of the cases, poor hygiene while cooking is the leading cause.

Depending on the cause and the extent of poisoning or the amount of contaminated food consumed, the discomfort symptoms vary from one patient to another. As per health experts, the condition usually lasts for 1-2 days. However, depending upon the cause of the ailment, it may take about 2 weeks for complete recovery.

Signs

Mild to severe poisoning that affects many people at a time after consuming the same contaminated food, is called an outbreak. Commonly manifested signs include stomach pain, upset stomach, loss of appetite, and other gastrointestinal problems, like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Though fever is usually not seen in most cases, some patients do have high temperature.

Symptoms may be observed immediately after consuming the toxic foods or may occur after several days. For example, consuming poisonous mushrooms causes abnormal symptoms within a few hours; while having foods contaminated with bacteria may take some time to cause noticeable symptoms. It is not unusual to mistake this as stomach flu, in which the latter is exclusively caused due to a bacterial or viral infection.

Treatment

As the symptoms are rarely dangerous, most people do not require therapeutic intervention for treatment. And many of them recover successfully after trying effective remedies. Thus, there is lack of medical data that reveals the actual statistics of such incidences. Some of the best recommended home treatments are:

Drink ample amounts of water and keep yourself hydrated. Otherwise frequent diarrhea and vomiting may result in dehydration.
Even if you do not feel like eating, try consuming dry and easily digestible foods. Strictly avoid hot, spicy, and acidic foods, which may aggravate the symptoms.
An effective home remedy is to include probiotic foods and electrolytes drinks in your diet. This will help in treating the symptoms and replace the lost electrolytes.
Take adequate rest and stay calm while dealing with the symptoms. Follow personal hygiene and simple self-care tips to prevent contamination of food as far as possible.

This was in brief on how to treat mild food poisoning at home. In case of dehydration or persistence of the poisoning signs even after following natural remedies, therapeutic treatment by a qualified doctor is necessary. The physician may conduct urine and stool tests for presence of blood cells and harmful germs, after which appropriate medicines are prescribed.

Bacterial Food Poisoning

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, food poisoning is the cause for about 76 million illnesses, 3,25,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths every year. Food poisoning is a common illness that occurs immediately after consuming contaminated food or drinks. Although generally a mild condition, it can also result in death.

This illness reveals itself in the form of diarrhea, vomiting, fever, chills, dehydration, bloody stools, etc. It can be caused by infectious agents such as bacteria, parasites, or even viruses. Moreover, it can also be caused by toxic agents like poisonous mushrooms, pesticides on fruits and vegetables, or improperly cooked foods. Improperly handled, packaged, or stored foods also lead to food poisoning.

What is Bacterial Food Poisoning?

Bacteria dwelling in the intestines of infected humans or pets, poultry, cattle, etc., can cause diarrhea in humans. Their feces can contaminate recreational water, drinking water, soil, meat during slaughter, etc. Not washing one’s hands after using the washroom also results in this condition. Ear, throat, nose, and urinary infections can also result in food poisoning. Moreover, consuming undercooked beef, shellfish, raw eggs, raw milk (not pasteurized), non-adequately stored or cooled food, can also result in bacterial food poisoning.

Symptoms

Symptoms will begin to appear about 48 hours after consumption of contaminated food. The symptoms that may occur are as follows:

Nausea and occasional vomiting
General malaise with fever (occasionally)
Diarrhea (loose or watery stools)
Bloating
Abdominal cramps

These were some mild food poisoning symptoms. Severe diarrhea can lead to dehydration, tiredness, sunken eyes, thirst, and decreased urination.

In bacterial food poisoning, the bacteria spearheads inflammation of the stomach, small intestine, colon, or rectum. This inflammation reduces the amount of nutrients and water absorbed in the small intestine, thereby, resulting in diarrhea. Severe cases of infection can lead to ulcers and in some extreme cases, bacteria can even enter the blood and affect other organs of the body.

Common Bacteria Involved in Food Poisoning

Staphylococcus aureus
Food poisoning due to this bacteria occurs mainly by consuming foods that involve bare hands preparation, such as in salads, sandwiches, etc. When such food items are left at room temperature for a long period of time, bacteria grow and produce toxins. Maintaining good personal hygiene and refrigeration of food items will keep bacterial invasion at bay.

Salmonella
Salmonella is passed to humans from animals (poultry and pets). It is commonly caused by consumption of unpasteurized milk or undercooked poultry, meat, or eggs. Bacteria can spread from the intestine to other organs of the body.

Clostridium botulinum
This bacteria is responsible for one in every 400 cases of food poisoning in the US. Clostridium botulinum can exist as heat-resistant spores that grow and produce neurotoxins in processed, home-canned food products. The toxin produced by this bacteria can be destroyed by boiling the food for 10 minutes.

Campylobacter jejuni
This bacteria attacks those with a weak immune system, and at times even causes arthritis, brain and nerve problems, etc., besides food poisoning.

Listeria
This bacteria is mainly found in soil and water. Vegetables growing in contaminated soil can be vectors of this bacteria. They are found in several types of uncooked meats and vegetables. Processed food like soft cheese and cold cuts can also get contaminated after processing.

Shigella (traveler’s diarrhea)
The bacteria is transmitted through feces and may cause dysentery and severe diarrhea. Unhygienic conditions in highly populated areas form breeding grounds for these bacteria.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Escherichia coli can also cause bacterial food poisoning.

Mild form of food poisoning usually subsides on its own within 2-3 days. During this time, the patient is advised to drink lots of water in order to prevent dehydration. Severe cases of diarrhea call for stool culture tests, since the tests will determine the kind of antibiotic treatment required. Presence of leukocytes and mysterious blood can be signs of bacterial invasions and need to be treated with antibiotics.