Food poisioning is related to unsafe food, dirty kitchen and dirty kitchen appliances. Your food is poisoned if you do not follow the cleanliness rules at your home. If you stick to some safety rules, you will never get its symptoms.
Every year about 5,000 people die from pathogens in food in the United States out of about 76 million become ill from food.
It can lead to diarrhea, vomiting nausea or cramping within 2 days of consuming any contaminated food or drink. In some cases, it can be life threatening.
The symptoms of food poisoning vary with the source and extent of contamination. They range from upset stomach, diarrhea, loose motions, nausea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps and dehydration, to more severe illness such as paralysis and meningitis. These symptoms occur within hours after eating contaminated food. Its diagnosis is done by testing the stool.
Following are the signs:
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Bloody diarrhea or pus in the stool
- Upset stomach, some abdominal pain, cramps
- Fever that lasts longer than 24 hours
- Dizziness, fainting, rapid heart rate
- Weakness, numbness or tingling in the arms, legs or mouth
Most effects on body clear up in a few days on its own. In the case of continued illness seek medical advice. Children, elders, pregnant women and the persons who use antacids heavily are at higher risk.
As all foods contain small amounts of bacteria, their poor handling and storage and improper cooking can multiply these bacteria in large numbers to cause illness. It is caused commonly due to E. coli or Staphylococcus bacteria in contaminated food. The poisoning often occurs from eating old dairy products, undercooked meats, foods left out of the refrigerator too long or salads that were cut long time back.
Foods Causing Poisoning
The foods that may cause poisoning include uncooked or undercooked foods mainly from animal sources such as meat, eggs or fish and dairy products including cheese.
Some Cheese varieties such as blue veined, camembert, brie and feta can easily be contaminated with bacterias such as Salmonellaor Listeria. Such contaminated cheese can cause poisoning. In some rare cases it can also lead to miscarriages. Do not use the cheese beyond its expiry date.
Sometimes Eggs can be contaminated by harmful Salmonella bacteria. If you consume a raw infected egg, you can be affected. To prevent this, store eggs in a refrigerator and always cook them well before consuming.
Tuna can be contaminated with scombrotoxin, which can cause cramps and headaches. To prevent this, store tuna in a refrigerator and always cook them thoroughly before consuming.
Oysters and other shellfish can be contaminated if the water they are filtering on is polluted. The poisoning caused by shellfish can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, fever, etc.
Eating foods in hotels, canteens, picnics, large parties, wedding dinners, etc. can invite poisoning. Salads at such places are generally not properly washed and freshly cut.
Who Are At Risk
Infants, children and elderly people have a higher risk. You are at greatest risk if you are diabetic, have kidney disease, and a weak immune system.
You should go to a Doctor if
- the symptoms or signs last for more than two days even after home treatment OR
- there is a fever with or without shivers or chills OR
- there is a diarrhea that is very watery (If enough fluid is lost through diarrhea or vomiting, it can affect the body's salt balance ) OR
- there is blood mixed in with the stools (could be due to E. Coli and other common food-borne pathogens) OR
- there is pus or mucus (whitish-gray in color) mixed in with the stools OR
- there are signs of dehydration (intense thirst, dry lips and tongue, increased heart and breathing rates, weakness, and dizziness.) OR
- anyone else in your family is also sick with similar symptoms.
Note that most symptoms do not require medical care and can be cured at home by simple remedies.
Most poisioning effects on body clears up in a few days on its own as their duration is not for very long period. In the case of continued illness seek medical advice.
The following remedies are simple to follow and you can get quick relief.
- Mix a tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in a cup of hot water before a meal to prevent acid indigestion.
- Add three drops of garlic oil to half a cup of soya oil and rub onto the stomach after food.
- Drink a herbal tea of mint, raspberry, camomile and blackberry.
- Drink 1/4 cup of charcoal powder mixed with a glass of water.
- Drink one cup of ginger tea after meals to promote a good digestion and for hearetburn, nausea, etc.
- Eat some bread, says Julian Whitaker, M.D., president of the Whitaker Wellness Center in Newport Beach, California. Bread has a tendency to soak up the poison and can give you a quick relief.
- Drink 2 tablespoons of undiluted apple cider vinegar (pasteurized).
- Time is generally the best remedy. If you feel indigestion, or get sour burp, and/or loose motions, or for general stomach upsets, you can do the following:
Drink mint essense (available as Pudin Hara or Amritdhara in India. These are mint or peppermint essense.), 3-4 drops in water, every 2 hour. If you can't get mint essense, try eating mint leaves.
Also drink Jaljeera (a mixture of cumin, salt, asafetida and other herbs) 2-3 times. Let the poison get out of your body through vomitting or motions. First you will throw poisonous foods and then water (Drink lots of water with sugar and salt). You should be alright in less than 24 hours. Start this treatment as soon as you start getting sour burps. You may drink mint essense (3-4 drops in water) after you eat in a restaurant or party or you have overeaten.
- In most cases, the effective treatment is to lie down and drink plenty of bland fluids such as water, diluted fruit juice or light tea.
Deep breathing, meditation - relaxation technique can help relieve stomach cramp and calm the irritated bowel, reducing the frequency of bowel motions by lessening stress.