It seems that the salad in the cafe was somehow wrong. Or maybe you should have poured that soup last night instead of finishing it? And the ice cream, it seems, was so-so. Familiar situations? Only the most accurate and successful people did not encounter food poisoning. All the rest – alas. But how to get rid of food poisoning?
One of the medical emergencies requiring immediate medical attention is food poisoning. It brings a lot of suffering and can significantly impair health. Therefore, you need to recognize the symptoms of food poisoning as early as possible, provide first aid and begin treatment.
Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, heart palpitations, and sometimes even fever with chills, cramps, and fainting – this is how food intoxication can manifest itself. The most familiar causes of food poisoning are meat, especially in the form of minced meat and dairy products. In this way, not only today’s lunch but also yesterday’s breakfast can make itself known: depending on the amount of spoiled food and the state of the victim’s immunity, symptoms can appear in 30 minutes or a day.
In the majority of instances, food poisoning is caused by eating poor-quality food. It can be spoiled, high in toxins, or contaminated with bacteria and viruses. One of the most communal causes of intoxication is the use of mushrooms.
In this article, we’ll figure out what kind of bacteria can poison you. How to distinguish food poisoning and properly store and handle the food so that you do not encounter it.
What food can poison you?
Food poisoning happens when you eat foods that contain harmful bacteria or toxins. Infection with pathogenic bacteria or fungi (foodborne infection) is more common than poisoning with natural or chemical toxins (or food intoxication).
Any food you eat contains bacteria. Not all of them are dangerous, and most of them die during the cooking process. Therefore, the most common cause of poisoning is raw or spoiled food. Poorly washed hands or food before eating can also lead to poisoning or infection.
On your hands, there are about 150 species of bacteria, totaling about 3000. Among them, there may be toxic species.
In most cases, eight types of bacteria cause poisoning that lives in different foods. We have compiled a list of risky foods and bacteria that may be there.
Bacteria and the dangerous food they are present in.
- Clostridium botulinum (Poorly processed food or canned food
- Campylobacter (Undercooked meat and poultry, raw milk
- Clostridium perfringens (Large cuts of meat, stale meat sauces
- Escherichia coli (E. coli) (Undercooked meat, milk, contaminated water
- Listeria (Pate, container salads, soft cheese
- Salmonella (Poultry, eggs, pork, beef, fruits, and nuts
The bacterium Campylobacter jejuni is most often the cause of food poisoning. They usually enter the body from poultry or milk.
If the microbes are not to blame, then the poisoning of plants, fungi, or animals could cause the poisoning. You can also poison yourself with the seeds of fruits, raw beans, and sprouted potatoes, the insides of some fish, mussels, or honey from poisonous plants. Pesticides, nitrates, and heavy metal salts can also be the cause of poisoning.
The main causes of food poisoning.
- Failure to conform to the rules of personal hygiene.
- Eating unwashed vegetables, herbs, and salads.
- Eating expired food.
- Insufficient heat treatment of food during cooking.
- Gross violations of the temperature regime during the storage of products.
With weakened immunity, all these factors facilitate the entry of bacteria and toxins into the body and increase their pathogenic effect.
Types of food poisoning.
In medicine, it is customary to distinguish two types of acute eating disorders:
- Poisoning with inedible substances. When eating poisonous mushrooms, berries, and plants.
- Poisoning with edible products. Under the influence of toxins, bacteria are massively present in spoiled food – water, meat, eggs, milk, and other contaminated food.
The severity and prognosis for recovery from food poisoning depend on when the infected or poisonous foods got into the body, in what quantity, and how quickly first aid was provided and treatment started.
Therefore, everyone must know the main signs of food poisoning to help themselves and those around them. They must correctly assess whether they can cope independently or urgently need to see a doctor.
How does food poisoning manifest?
The first signs appear very quickly. Usually, within 4-6 hours after eating poor-quality or contaminated food, a person becomes ill. The incubation period can be shorter than this time. Intoxication manifests itself in everyone who eats a spoiled product.
Poisoning symptoms are usually typical and very similar but differ in severity.
The main signs of poisoning are:
- Stomach ache
- The feeling of bloating, heaviness, discomfort
- Severe nausea and vomiting and recurrence
- Diarrhea with frequent urging and pain in the abdomen
- Increased weakness
- Throws up in cold and clammy sweat
- Dizziness, darkening of the eyes, disorientation
- Chills and low body temperature
- Low pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Aversion to food
- There may be a high temperature
Partially similar symptoms can be caused, for example, by dysbiosis. When the bacteria in the gut are out of balance, it becomes more difficult for the body to fight off inflammation and infection. If you observe digestive problems on a regular basis, you should see a doctor and check if everything is in order with the digestive organs and microbiota.
It is dangerous to confuse poisoning with an intestinal infection despite similar symptoms. In case of infection, pathogens multiply inside the intestines, and in case of poisoning, toxins enter the body in a finished form and a limited dose cause symptoms.
Certain groups of people are especially susceptible to food poisoning. Their symptoms are probable to be more severe. Most often, it is due to the functioning of the immune system or disorders in the composition of the microbiota.
Here are the people at risk:
- People over 65
- Children under five years old
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immunity or autoimmune diseases
In the maximum severe cases, food poisoning can provoke:
- Asthenia – severe muscle weakness
- Decreased or even complete loss of vision
- Very profuse salivation
- Disturbances in the work of the brain up to delirium, hallucinations, and coma
- Lesions of the nervous system, which can lead to paralysis
How to treat food poisoning?
It is best to consult a doctor straight away to carry out all the necessary procedures and prescribe medications. For complicated forms of indigestion, it is necessary. They pay particular attention to risk groups, including infants and young children, people with chronic diseases, the elderly, and pregnant women.
If you have to wait a long time for the doctor or he says that the poisoning is not serious, then the patient can take first aid on his own. First aid for poisoning depends on how soon you started to act and how long ago the symptoms appeared.
First, determine whether the contaminated food has been absorbed into the patient’s body. If not, you need to engage in enhanced excretion of harmful substances that have not been absorbed. It will help gastric lavage.
To induce vomiting, it is necessary to drink one and a half to two liters of a two percent baking soda solution or a pale pink solution of potassium permanganate. For complete cleansing of the stomach, repeat the lavage.
If the harmful substances have already been absorbed, sorbents are used to remove them from the intestines. Activated carbon is broadly used as a sorbent. The patient must take four tablets every 3 hours.
Drink plenty of water.
To avoid dehydration with profuse vomiting or diarrhea, patients must drink plenty of water with salt solutions. If food poisoning passes without vomiting and diarrhea, they are artificially induced with laxatives to reduce the absorption of toxins.
For this, magnesium or sodium sulfates are the best options. You need to drink half a glass of liquid with a tablespoon of the substance dissolved in it and drink plenty of water.
Seek medical attention for symptoms such as abdominal pain, prolonged fever and yellow whites of the eyes, persistent vomiting and blood in vomit, and prolonged diarrhea with blood or mucus.
In case of food poisoning, immediately call an ambulance if the patient faints, the body temperature rises to 39°C and higher, swelling in the abdomen occurs, acute or spasmodic abdominal pains are disturbing, and the joints become inflamed. A rash appears on the skin, and problems with swallowing or respiratory function are found.
What to do when the acute condition subsides?
In the case of food poisoning, it is important not to provoke additional problems. Therefore, choose very carefully what to eat. In the first hours, the patient, as a rule, does not want to eat at all. When vomiting has passed, you should wait a few hours and only then eat. The body will get well on its own. The main thing is not to intrude on it.
Introduce food products gradually, in small doses. It is strictly forbidden to consume alcohol. In no case eat heavy food – fried, fatty, salty or spicy foods. You cannot drink coffee and soda.
Dairy products, alcohol, raw vegetables, and fruits should not be consumed. You can eat rice or buckwheat porridge with water, baked apples, mashed potatoes, black tea, and white bread croutons.
Then you can introduce chicken broth into the diet, only lean chicken meat and chicken steamed cutlets. You can also help the microflora to recover by taking probiotics.
It is better to eat a little, but often. You need to switch to your usual diet gradually, without overloading the digestive tract – and then everything will soon be in order.
What to do to avoid poisoning?
One of the most steadfast ways to neutralize food remains heat treatment, proper storage, and food hygiene.
Store cooked food separately from raw food and watch the temperature. High cooking temperatures help kill most bacteria, but it does not guarantee that you will get rid of them permanently.
Some types of bacteria form spores that are resistant to heat. As soon as the food cools down, the spores can rise to an entire colony of dangerous bacteria. Therefore, do not store food at room temperature. And when you see that the food has started to spoil, it is better to get rid of it.
Most dangerous bacteria thrive in temperatures between 5ºC and 63ºC. So it’s better to store food in the refrigerator or freezer. It is important to check that the temperature in your refrigerator is below 5ºC and that in your freezer, it is below -15ºC.
Freezing will help limit the growth of bacteria, but it will not kill them entirely. So it’s safest to cook your food thoroughly.
It is nicest to keep raw and cooked food separately to avoid transferring bacteria from raw food to the finished meal. It is especially true for meat: removing raw meat and poultry from the lowest shelf is best.
Always confirm the expiration date and do not use products when they have expired, even if they look and smell normal. Be especially careful with meats, processed foods, and dairy products.
Wash your hands and utensils often.
Washing your hands will also help protect yourself: carefully monitor their cleanliness while cooking and eating food. If you’ve touched the trash can, pets, doorknobs, or went to the toilet while cooking, it’s best to wash your hands again. Or at least use a sanitizer. Otherwise, bacteria can get into processed foods.
It’s also important to keep your kitchen surfaces and cutting boards clean. It is best to use different boards for raw and cooked foods. Wash the dishes in hot water and soap or the dishwasher. Also, wash tea towels and other textiles regularly to avoid bacteria build-up.
Food poisoning is a general occurrence in the life of every person. However, it is sufficient to follow simple rules, and it will no longer be a frequent guest of your body.
A healthy person with high immunity copes with poisoning on their own without additional medical assistance. But if a small child or an older person gets food poisoning, it is necessary to call a doctor or show the patient to a specialist.
By following these recommendations, you can save yourself and your family from the likelihood of catching food poisoning. Remember, your health is so fragile, so why take risks?