According to the Food Standards Agency, it is estimated that up to 5.5 million people in the UK are affected from food poisoning each year but only a small number of these visit their family doctor or get medical advice. Because of this less than 100,000 cases a year are tested for the exact cause of food poisoning. Nevertheless there are more than 200 known diseases that are transmitted through food.
Some food poisoning can produce symptoms within 30 minutes to a few hours but most cases take between 12-48 hours. However if the food poisoning is due to an infection with Campylobacter, it may take a week or longer to develop symptoms.
So what are the symptoms?
These can vary, depending on the cause but most common symptoms are vomiting,, abdominal pain and diarrhea. However symptoms may also include fevers and chills, be as non descript as weakness and exhaustion. or as tangible as bloody stools, dehydration and muscle aches.
We can split food poisoning into two groups
Includes viruses, bacteria and parasites.
• Campylobacter, which is found in raw poultry, unpasteurised milk, red meat and untreated water.
• Salmonella is the next most common type and is found in unpasteurised milk, eggs and raw egg products, raw meat and poultry
• Listeria, Shigella (Travellers diarrhoea) and clostridia.
• Staphylococcus Aureus, Clostridium Perfringens and Bacillus Cereus. These bacteria cause vomiting and mild to moderate diarrhoea.
• Normal intestinal bacteria can cause food poisoning eg E. Coli E157 can cause severe illness, kidney failure or blood damage.
• Poisonous mushrooms
• Improperly prepared exotic food
• Pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
Normally food poisoning will clear up within a few days without medical intervention but the recovery period depends upon the type of infection, age and fitness of the person and whether he/she have any other medical conditions…
Good hygiene practices will reduce your risk of food poisoning.. Not storing cooked food with raw food, throwing away any food that is past its sell by date or that you are unsure of, keeping all types of food and drink away from any household chemicals, such as cleaning products and bleach, checking that your fridge and freezer are in good working order and set to the correct temperature. The fridge should be 0-4°C (33.8F – 39.2F) and the freezer should be less than -18°C (-0.4F).
Most importantly washing your hands after visiting the toilet, before handling food or touching ready to eat food.
During times of stress, travel, illness, changes in the diet (including going out to dinner), and taking antibiotics, the unfriendly, pathogenic bacteria sometimes overwhelm the friendly bacteria in our digestive system. In these situations, I would recommend the use of Probiotics [http://www.vidasana.co.uk/digestion.html] (capsules containing beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum). Many of you will already eat probiotic bacteria in yogurt but in the above conditions you need billions more bacteria to come to your rescue. With a high strength capsule you will be taking the equivalent of 20 full pots of yogurt in a way that is much easier to cope with. This will also strengthen your immune system
You may be given a course of antibiotics depending on the cause but do not eat any food while feeling sick or vomiting. Rest your stomach for one hour after being sick and then try small sips of water. If weak and exhausted then sleep.
Once the vomiting has stopped then you would hasten your recovery by taking the probiotic bacteria mentioned above.
You may be dehydrated so gradually build up the amounts of fluids like water, or use rehydration powders available from pharmacies. Make sure you drink regularly.
Avoid alcohol as it will make you more dehydrated.
Avoid sports drinks or sugary drinks as the sugar content may increase diarrhea.
Keep good personal hygiene to prevent passing the illness to other people.
Only try eating again once you have been free of sickness and diarrhea for several hours. Eat small amounts of plain foods that are easy on the stomach (such as rice, bread, potatoes and low sugar cereals)
Are there adverse effects from taking Probiotics?
Probiotics are well tolerated and safe. There are no reported drug interactions or adverse effects, and no known risk of overdose. Probiotics can be taken by pregnant , lactating women and can be given to young children as early as is practical.