Understanding Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning

We all know how unpleasant and painful food poisoning can be. Even though it only lasts for around 48 hours, this type of illness can make those two days feel like some of the longest of your life. Sufferers generally experience extremely painful stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. In some of the worst cases, these symptoms can lead to more serious complications such as dehydration.

Food poisoning typically arises when one ingests an infected food or beverage product. Undercooked meat, unpasteurized milk and juices, unwashed produce and water contaminated with feces are all sources of infection. It can also be transmitted from person to person.

Types of Infections

Food poisoning is not just one general type of illness. There are actually many different types of bacterial and viral infections that are all fall into this catergory of disease.

Most cases arise from a viral infection. Noroviruses, rotaviruses and hepatitis A are all viruses that cause food poisoning in their victims. While they all have similar symptoms, they tend to affect different populations. For example, noroviruses commonly target adults, while rotaviruses infect children and infants more frequently.

There is a very wide range of bacterial infections, as well. Salmonella, E. coli, botulism, traveler’s diarrhea, staphylococcus aureus and cholera are some of the more common types of bacterial poisoning.

Symptoms

No matter what virus, bacteria or parasite has caused the infection, all food poisoning sufferers will experience the same general symptoms:

· Stomach cramps

· Headache

· Fever

· Diarrhea

· Vomiting and nausea

· Weakness

Generally, these symptoms will subside after one or two days. If they are particularly bad, or if they last for a longer period of time, the victim may experience dehydration, bloody stools or even respiratory arrest. In these cases, medical attention may be necessary.

Treatment

In general, home treatment will help alleviate some of the worst symptoms. Solid foods should be avoided until the worst of the diarrhea has passed, and victims should make sure they rehydrate after vomiting and using the bathroom. Electrolyte-infused beverages are great for replenishing lost minerals and fluids, and caffeinated beverages, being dehydrants, should be avoided.