How to Deal With Food Poisoning

The term “Food poisoning” is quite familiar. You must have heard every year from friends or relatives that someone or the other is suffering from food poisoning. “Food poisoning” can be defined to express any type of illness or disease after consumption of food.

We all love to gorge on the finger-licking fast foods but at times we hardly recognize that this sin of temptation can lead to mild uneasiness to severe bacterial infection. When the intoxicated food is consumed, bacteria take some time to grow if provided with suitable temperature, moisture, and nutrients. If these factors are maintained, then a single bacterium can multiply to 4 million bacteria by binary fission in just 6-8 hours!!!

Who is at Risk?
The symptoms of food poisoning depend upon the quantity, type and toxicity of the toxin.

The gastrointestinal symptoms typically appear after 1-6 hours whereas the neurological and hematological effects may appear after a long time. Some people with low immune status such as young children, pregnant women, elderly people and patients with gastrointestinal problems have greater risk of food poisoning.

Symptoms
In this food borne illness, symptoms resemble intestinal flu, causing inflammation and problems with normal absorption of nutrients and water leading to diarrhea, Abdominal cramps, Nausea, Vomiting, Fever, Kidney failure, etc.

Dehydration is the most common complication. Though the symptoms may last a few hours to several days but in severe cases it may even cause death.

Causes
-More than 90% cases of food poisoning are due to the deadly pathogens that are stored in raw food.
-Improper methods of home processing foods
-Poor personal hygiene
-Cross contamination
-Unclean utensils, etc

Prevention
-Generally normal cooking or boiling destroys bacteria.
-Food must be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within short duration.
-Washing hands is must before food preparation; surfaces of utensils should also be cleaned thoroughly before and after handling raw food to prevent recontamination of cooked foods.
-When the refrigerated food is being reused, it should be heated appropriately.

Diagnosis and Treatment
The doctor may be able to diagnose the food borne illness from the food items that the patient has recently eaten. Diagnosis also includes examination of faeces. Mostly, cases of food poisoning are mild and can be treated within couple of days by increasing fluid intake either orally or intravenously. In severe cases the patient need to be hospitalized and to be kept under medication to receive supportive nutrients. So next time you eat, better watch your plate.