What is Food Poisoning?

‘Food poison’ the term which we usually come across is a gastrointestinal disorder which occurs as a result of having contaminated food. Normally food poisoning doesn’t seem to be serious but sometimes it may turn to be lethal. Food poisoning is primarily caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Sometimes food poisoning may also cause due to the presence of harmful chemicals and toxins but this is very rare

Food poisoning can be identified through symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, bloody stools, and dehydration, abdominal cramping etc which occurs immediately within few hours after consuming the contaminated drink or food.

Sometimes food poisoning affects a group of people when a lot of people consume the same contaminated food. This may happen at the time of a party, birthday function, marriage etc.

Mild cases of food poisoning are common and it can be noticed anywhere. Sometimes you too may have experienced a mild food poisoning with vomiting, diarrhea or an upset stomach which would have misrepresented by your parents or friends as indigestion or stomach bug.

Harmful microorganisms can contaminate the food at any stage either at the time of processing or after completing the production. Contamination may even occur at your home itself when the food is not properly cooked, stored or handled.

Your sickness due to food contamination depends upon several factors such as your age, health condition, the type of organism which causes the contamination, the amount of exposure you had to that food etc.

Symptoms of food poisoning

The symptoms of food poisoning vary according to the amount of food which you had eaten and the type of contaminant. You may experience the symptoms immediately after few hours of eating or slowly after few days. The most common symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fever and chill, fatigue etc. Normally food poisoning is not serious and resolves within one or two days without any treatment.

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Causes of Food Poisoning

Researchers have found that nearly 250 diseases can be spread through food. More than 80 percent of food-related diseases are caused by unknown or undiscovered infectious microorganisms.

The causes of food poisoning can be broadly classified into two categories- infectious agents and toxic agents. Infectious agents include harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites whereas toxic agents on other hand include poisonous mushrooms, improperly cooked food, rotten food, pesticides on fruits and vegetables.

Normally food gets contaminated due to lack of hygiene. Foods handled by infected people or those with unwashed hands are the major causes of food contamination.

Similarly, foods preserved at a wrong temperature may also contaminate the food

Meat, poultry, raw foods, unwashed fruits, and vegetables etc will carry germs that cause food poison

Risk factors

People who are severely affected by food poisoning are older people, children, pregnant women and people with chronic disease such as AIDS, cancer etc.

When to consult a doctor

You can seek the advice of a doctor when you experience any of the following troubles.

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Blood in the stool or vomit
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever above 100 F
  • Other symptoms such as excessive thirst, severe diarrhea, dry mouth, little or no urination, fatigue, dizziness etc.

How to prevent food poisoning

The basic thing which you should remember is to keep the cold food cold and hot food hot. Try to be hygienic while preparing as well as having the food.