When Food Poisoning Strikes
Your stomach hurts, you’ve got diarrhea, you’re throwing up…is it a virus, or could it be food poisoning?
More and more we are hearing about foods contaminated with bacteria and causing “food-borne illness.” Each year, up to 33 million people may suffer its consequences–diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, headache and vomiting. These symptoms may come on as early as a half-hour after eating or may not develop for up to two weeks. Once symptoms strike, they usually last less than 12 hours.
Primarily, food poisoning is caused by bacteria growing in the food. Most people exposed to bacteria in foods are not noticeably affected, and when they are, the effects are not usually long lasting. However, the consequences can be severe and may require hospitalization in the very young, the very old, and those with weakened immune systems.
When food poisoning is severe–even in otherwise healthy people–you may need to seek medical treatment. Severe fluid and electrolyte loss (sodium, potassium, and so forth) may cause weakness and very low blood pressure. If you become very weak, if you have bloody diarrhea, or develop a high fever, play it safe and seek help from your physician or local emergency department. For most cases of severe food poisoning, all you need is replacement of fluids and medication to control nausea and vomiting.
Sources: International Food Information Council and Merck Manual of Medical Information
Here’s some basic tips to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
Go here to register your complaint about tainted food in a restaurant or store.
See what our government is doing about food safety.
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