Food Poisoning Happens

Many people get sick from the foods they eat. The body has a first line defense against food poisoning, which is the very acidic environment of the stomach. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach kills many organisms ingested from food and water.

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Many times the symptoms of food poisoning come from toxins that the infectious organism itself releases into the food. These toxins cause many of the symptoms of food poisoning which include

  • Nausea
  • Vomitingshutterstock_73249888
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Malaise
  • Abdominal pain

When you have these symptoms it means the body is trying to get rid of the organism and the toxins, as quickly as possible.

Causes

There are many different causes of food poisoning. The organism causing the illness maybe viral, bacterial or parasitic

Many times food is contaminated during processing and storage. For example, fecal matter (poop) from an animal often contaminates meat when it is processed. Contamination can end up in ground meat products such as burgers, or cover the outside of a steak or other body part.

Since the organisms release toxins, cooking the food is not enough to prevent from you from getting sick when you eat it. The toxins are already in the meat and lead to the food poisoning symptoms.

These same organisms may be in the water used to rinse vegetables or leafy greens, coating them with harmful particles that may be difficult to wash off later.

Other vectors such as dirty hands of the people preparing the food can also spread illness. If someone doesn’t wash their hands after blowing their nose or going to the bathroom, those germs will end up on what you eat. Letting food sit too long can also lead to growth of organisms that cause food poisoning.

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Treatment

Drinking water to replace fluids lost from sweating, vomiting or having diarrhea is important. An electrolyte balanced water helps replace some of the lost electrolytes and minerals the illness.

Rest is needed so the body can recover. Only food that is easy on the system should be eaten. This is not the time for greasy, spicy pizza. Plain boiled rice helps soothe the stomach.

If it’s not possible to hold fluids down, or if dizziness, high fever, confusion set in, it’s important to seek treatment with a primary care provider such as your NP or MD, or in the ER.

Sometimes food poisoning is deadly and needs much more aggressive treatment. This is especially true for children, the elderly or anyone who has an underlying serious illness.

The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

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