food poisoning, symptoms, causes, and preventions

Food poisoning symptoms, which may begin within hours of ingesting food that is contaminated , frequently include diarrhea, vomiting or nausea.

Food poisoning is mild and resolves without therapy. However, some people today will need to go to the hospital.

Contamination may also happen in the home if food cooked or is handled.
Food poisoning,

also known as disease, is disease brought on by eating contaminated food. Organisms — including viruses,

bacteria and parasites — or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning.


Food poisoning symptoms change with the source of contamination.

Many types of food poisoning trigger one or more of the following symptoms and signs:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever

Signs and symptoms can start within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they may begin days or even weeks.

Sickness generally lasts from a few hours to several days.

When to see a doctor

Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following Symptoms or Signs

  • Frequent episodes of vomiting and inability to keep liquids down
  • Bloody vomit or stools
  • Diarrhea for more than three days
  • Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping
  • An oral temperature higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Neurological symptoms such as blurry vision, muscle weakness and tingling in the arms


Food poisoning is caused by many parasitic or bacterial, viral agents. The following table shows a few of the contaminants, once you may begin to feel ways and symptoms the organism is spread.

Contamination of food may happen growing, harvesting, processing, storing, preparing or shipping.

Cross-contamination — the transfer of organisms from 1 surface to another — is most often the cause.

This is especially troublesome for raw foods, such as salads or other produce.

As these foods are not cooked organisms are not destroyed before eating and can cause food poisoning.

Risk factors

Whether you become ill after eating food is based upon the organism,

the amount of your health, your age and vulnerability. High-risk classes comprise:

  • Older adults. As you get older, your immune system may not respond as quickly and as effectively to infectious organisms as when you were younger.
  • Pregnant women. During pregnancy, changes in metabolism and circulation may increase the risk of food poisoning. Your reaction may be more severe during pregnancy. Rarely, your baby may get sick, too.
  • Infants and young children. Their immune systems haven’t fully developed.
  • People with chronic disease. Having a chronic condition — such as diabetes, liver disease or AIDS — or receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer reduces your immune response.


Babies, older adults and people who have chronic diseases or suppressed immune systems may become severely dehydrated when they lose more fluids than they can replace.

In that circumstance, receive intravenous fluids and they may need to be hospitalized. In extreme cases, dehydration can be deadly.

The most frequent serious complication of food poisoning is dehydration — a serious loss of minerals and water and essential salts.

Dehydration should not be a problem if you’re a healthy adult and drink enough to replace fluids that you lose from diarrhea and vomiting.

Some types of food poisoning have potentially serious complications for certain people. These include:

  • Listeria monocytogenes. Complications of a listeria food poisoning may be severe for an unborn baby. A listeria infection may cause miscarriage. Later a listeria infection may result in a deadly infection in the baby after birth, premature birth or stillbirth — even when the mother was only mildly ill. Infants who live a listeria infection may experience delayed development and damage.
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli). Certain E. coli strains can cause a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome. This syndrome damages the lining of the tiny blood vessels in the uterus. Older adults, people with weakened immune systems and children younger than 5 have a higher risk of developing this complication. If you are in one of these risk categories, visit your physician at the first sign of bloody or profuse diarrhea.


To prevent food poisoning at home:

  • Wash your hands, utensils and food surfaces often. Wash your hands well with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. Use hot, soapy water to wash utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces you use.
  • Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. When shopping, preparing food or storing food, keep raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish away from other foods. This prevents cross-contamination.
  • Cook foods to a safe temperature. The best way to tell if foods are cooked to a safe temperature is to use a food thermometer. You can kill harmful organisms in most foods by cooking them to the right temperature.Cook ground beef to 160 F (71.1 C); steaks, roasts and chops, such as lamb, pork and veal, to at least 145 F (62.8 C). Cook chicken and turkey to 165 F (73.9 C). Make sure fish and shellfish are cooked thoroughly.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods promptly — within two hours of purchasing or preparing them. If the room temperature is above 90 F (32.2 C), refrigerate perishable foods within one hour.
  • Defrost food safely. Don’t thaw food at room temperature. The safest way to thaw food is to defrost it in the refrigerator. If you microwave frozen food using the “defrost” or “50 percent power” setting, be sure to cook it immediately.
  • Throw it out when in doubt. If you aren’t sure if a food has been prepared, served or stored safely, discard it. Food left at room temperature too long may contain bacteria or toxins that can’t be destroyed by cooking. Don’t taste food that you’re unsure about — just throw it out. Even if it looks and smells fine, it may not be safe to eat.

Food poisoning is especially severe and for their fetuses, pregnant women and young kids, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems. By avoiding the following foods these folks should take precautions:

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