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Definition

Food poisoning is caused by consumption of germ-infested and contaminated food. Infectious organisms - including microbes, germs and parasites are the most familiar reasons.

They can pollute the food at any point of production. Contamination can also come about at home if the food is incorrectly handled or cooked. Pathogens can be found on almost all of the food that humans eat. However, heat from cooking usually kills pathogens on food before it reaches our plate. Foods eaten raw are common sources of food poisoning because they don't go through the cooking process. Meat, eggs, and dairy products and water are frequently contaminated.

Causes

Bacteria

Bacteria are the commonest causes.. E. coli, listeria, salmonella Campylobacter and C. botulinum (botulism) are common bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Parasites

Toxoplasma is one of the parasites that causes food poisoning.

Viruses

Norovirus, Sapovirus, Rotavirus, and Astrovirus are implicated. Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted through food.

Symptoms

Food poisoning symptoms, which can start within hours of eating contaminated food, often include vomiting or diarrhea.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Runny diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Temperature

Signs may start within a few hours after eating the polluted food, or they may start days or even weeks after. Infection caused by food poison generally lasts from a few hours to several days.

Risk Factors

Occurrence or seriousness of the illness depends on the organism, the extent of contact, age and health factors of the patient. Individuals who are more prone include:

  • Elderly Adults
  • Pregnant Women: Changes in metabolism and movement may augment the risk of food poisoning and the impact may be severe during pregnancy
  • Babies and Young kids
  • People with Chronic Illness: Individuals with conditions such as diabetes, liver disease or AIDS - or under chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer

Diagnosis

  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dysentery
  • Unbearable abdominal cramping
  • Temperature higher than 101F
  • Signs of dehydration such as dry mouth or excessive need for liquids
  • Neurological symptoms such as hazy vision and muscle weakness

Treatment

Treatment for food poisoning depends on the severity of the symptoms. Most people get cured without being treated, though some may have prolonged effects.

Treatment includes:

  • Substitution of Lost Fluids: Fluids and electrolytes help maintain the balance of fluids in the body. Some older adults and children with incessant diarrhea or nausea may need to be hospitalized so as to avoid dehydration.
  • Antibiotics: The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the patient suffers from certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning and the symptoms are very intense.
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