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Saturday, January 28, 2012

What is food Poisoning?

Original Article

"Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died."
-Bombeck, Erma
Despite the name, food poisoning does not mean that someone has slipped hemlock or arsenic into your meal. Food poisoning usually means that you ate something containing an infectious agent like a virus, bacteria or parasite. But it can also mean poisoning in the real sense if you consumed a toxic agent like a poisonous mushroom or pesticide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are more than 250 known diseases that are caused by "bad" food. In the United States each year 1 in 6 people (48 million) become sick from a food-borne illnesses resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, fever and chills that occur within 30 minutes to 48 hours after consuming a contaminated food or drink. Most food poisoning is not serious and will run its course in 24-48 hours.

When to Seek Medical Care

Contact your doctor if
  • You have a sick child under age 3
  • You cannot keep any liquids down
  • You cannot keep down prescribed & necessary medicine because of vomiting
  • You are pregnant
  • Symptoms last for more than two days
  • You have a low-grade fever
  • Symptoms begin after recent foreign travel
  • There is an outbreak where others who ate the same thing are also sick
  • You have a weakened immune system (HIV/AIDS, cancer/chemotherapy, etc)
Go to the nearest emergency room if:
  • The sick person passes out, becomes dizzy & lightheaded, or has problems with vision.
  • You have a fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C) along with the abdominal symptoms
  • You have sharp or cramping abdomen pains do not go away after 10-15 minutes (might be appendicitis which can be deadly)
  • Your stomach or abdomen swells
  • Your skin and/or eyes turn yellow (possible liver failure?)
  • You are vomiting blood or having bloody bowel movements
  • You stop urinating, have decreased urination, or have urine that is dark in color
  • You have problem breathing, speaking, or swallowing.
  • One or more joints swell or a rash breaks out
Bottom Line

No food is every germ free so illness is not caused by consuming a single bacteria but rather from eating something with a concentration of infectious agent too numerous for the body to defeat quickly. When you buy deli meat or cook a meal, the food is safe. But as the leftovers sit in the fridge the few bacteria multiply, slowly to sure, but surely. If the leftover is completely reheated to 160 F or so the new bacteria are killed. But if you eat a week-old item cold, like cold cuts in a sandwich, then your stomach may be in for a rude shock.