Speaking of Health – Food Poisoning

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By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC

Today’s topic is about food poisoning.  People infected with food-borne organisms may be symptom-free or may have symptoms ranging from mild intestinal discomfort to severe dehydration and bloody diarrhea. More than 250 different diseases can cause food poisoning. Some of the most common diseases are infections caused by bacteria, such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, botulism, and norovirus.

The symptoms of food poisoning usually affect your stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract).

• The first symptom is usually diarrhea.

• Other symptoms include feeling sick to your stomach (nausea), vomiting, and abdominal (belly) cramps.

The time it takes for symptoms to appear, how severe the symptoms are, and how long the symptoms last depend on the infecting organism, your age, and your overall health.

The very young and the very old may be most affected by food poisoning. Their symptoms may last longer, and even the types of food poisoning that are typically mild can be life-threatening. This may also be true for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems, such as those who have long-lasting (chronic) illnesses.

In most cases, the diarrhea and other symptoms of food poisoning go away in 2 to 3 days, and you don’t need treatment. It may be longer than 2 to 3 days until you feel normal again.

All you have to do is manage symptoms, especially diarrhea, and avoid complications until the illness passes. In most cases, dehydration caused by diarrhea is the main complication.

The goal of treatment is to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through vomiting and diarrhea. If dehydration is severe and can’t be managed at home, you may need treatment in the hospital, where fluids and electrolytes may be given to you by inserting a needle into your vein (intravenously).

Medicines that stop diarrhea (such as Imodium) can help with your symptoms. But these medicines shouldn’t be used in children or in people with a high fever or bloody diarrhea. Antibiotics are rarely used and only for certain types of food poisoning or in severe cases.

(Food Poisoning, 2016)