There is a popular saying that says that what we don’t know can’t hurt us. Have you ever taken time to think about this statement? How true is it? Well, when I put it into the medical context, it becomes null and void because then, it will be contradicting the truth. The medical truth that states that the earlier you find out about a certain problem, the better for you and anyone who’s ever had an encounter with food poisoning, will attest to that!
Food poisoning is a common cause of emergency room visits in America and is a leading cause of deaths especially among young children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually estimates that in a single year, close to 50 million people suffer from food poisoning. 130,000 of these end up hospitalized while close to 5,000 succumb to the food poisoning. These are staggering figures and it begs the question of why food poisoning is that prevalent in America. Do people assume food poisoning to be harmful? What are the main causes of food poisoning? What are the symptoms of food poisoning that you should look out for? When should you go to the emergency room because of food poisoning? To answer all these questions, here is a look at food poisoning and its causes and menacing symptoms;
Food poisoning or foodborne illness as the layman calls it is an infection or irritation of the gastrointestinal tract caused by foods containing certain microbes and chemicals. Such foods are either contaminated by the food causing bacteria, are spoiled or are just toxic to the human body. When ingested, these foods trigger certain reactions from the body because the body tries as hard as it can to get rid of the disease causing microbes before they can get into the system and establish themselves. Food poisoning is normally mild and will most of the time go away on its own after you vomit or diarrhea. Here are some of the most common symptoms of food poisoning that you should look out for;
Symptoms of food poisoning
The beauty about food poisoning, is the fact that it only takes a few minutes to experience the symptoms after consuming the toxic or contaminated food. These are some of the most common symptoms of food poisoning that you should look out for;
Abdominal muscle cramps
Depending on the strength of one’s immunity, sometimes, the symptoms take longer to manifest themselves. This means that people can eat the same contaminated meal and start experiencing the symptoms at different times. The symptoms will be of different magnitudes as well. Some people can eat contaminated foods at times and not experience the symptoms at all.
When should one go to the emergency room for food poisoning?
These symptoms of food poisoning are normally mild and after a few hours of vomiting or passing stool, the symptoms go away on their own without the need of seeing a medical doctor. Sometimes though, the symptoms are more serious and they should prompt you to seek medical attention in the nearest emergency room because they are indicative of serious food poisoning levels. If you experience any of the following symptoms therefore, you need to visit the nearest emergency room for urgent medical care;
Frequent vomiting which goes on for days without calming down.
Bloody vomit or stools. Any traces of blood in faeces or in vomit should prompt you to seek urgent medical care.
Diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days. Actually, if after a few hours of experiencing serious diarrhea the rates don’t come down, you should head for the emergency room for urgent medical care.
Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping. This is caused by excessive diarrhea and stomach aches.
Excessive fever which is preceded by excessive vomiting and diarrhea. This is indicative of a serious form of food poisoning and you need urgent medical care.
Signs or symptoms of dehydration such as excessive thirst, dry mouth and general body weakness.
Neurological symptoms such as blurry vision, muscle weakness, and tingling sensations in the arm. These are indicative of the food poisoning hitting dangerous levels and you should seek urgent medical care.
So, now that we know the cause and symptoms of food poisoning, how can we prevent food poisoning and contamination of food?
How to prevent food contamination and food poisoning
To prevent food contamination and poisoning in general, you need to maintain very high levels of hygiene and eat food from certified outlets. Keep all the food in the house covered and cook suing clean utensils. Wash and rinse your hands thoroughly with soap every single time you visit the toilet. Make sure the food you eat is properly cooked as well and never eat expired or food which you suspect has been contaminated. Just maintain high levels of hygiene and cases of food poisoning will be unheard of in your household.