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Food poisoning: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Food poisoning: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhoea: If you eat something spoiled, it is sometimes fast. The body makes every effort to excrete the toxins or bacteria from the body. Learn in the article what different forms of food poisoning there are, what are the triggers and how best to protect yourself from the unpleasant belly barking. 

A suspicious piece of meat from the buffet, the salad, which stood too long in the sun or the cake, which perhaps tastes somewhat peculiar: causes for a food poisoning are easily adjusted afterwards. The result? Stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. The term food poisoning is used for three different forms of disease.

Food poisoning, infection or toxi infection?

Food intoxication describes poisoning by toxins in the food. These toxins are metabolic products of bacteria. They are found on foodstuffs when they are stored incorrectly or under bad hygienic conditions. The pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, Colostridium botulinum, Bacillus cereus and mold fungi, can produce these toxic substances and leave them on food.

A food infection is referred to when live pathogens are absorbed through the food. They multiply in the shortest time in the digestive tract and lead to the unpleasant symptoms. Salmonellosis is the most prominent example of this type of food poisoning. The bacteria themselves are to blame for the complaints, not their excretions.

The third cause of the known symptoms is a Toxi infection. In addition, live germs are also absorbed through the food. They then begin to produce toxic substances in the body that harm the organism.

Pathogens of food poisoning are manifold

In principle all three forms occur by the consumption of contaminated or bacterially loaded food. Any foodstuffs can be carriers for germs or pathogens when harvested, stored, cultivated, prepared, packaged or transported under bad hygienic conditions. Particularly high-protein products such as poultry, milk products, eggs or meat present a high risk of infection.

As a cause comes a whole series of exciters in question. Alone more than 2000 kinds of salmonella are known, which can trigger a food poisoning. They are usually found in raw or insufficiently heated meat. Even raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella.

But other bacteria can also be the cause. These include: campylobacter (poultry meat and raw egg), shigella (contaminated drinking water in some holiday regions), yersinia (transmission by infected animals or their meat), Escherichia coli (beef and raw milk), staphylococci (are located on the palm of the hand Listeria (raw milk, soft cheese, raw meat), Clostridium botulinum (bloated packaging and preserves indicate these bacteria). Metals from the coating of pots and pans as well as from the packaging of the foodstuffs can cause poisoning.

Symptoms of food poisoning

After consumption of the contaminated food, the first symptoms occur within a few hours to a few days depending on the pathogen. Also the type and the intensity of the symptoms vary depending on the trigger. But abdominal pain, sometimes with seizures, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and deformed or watery stools usually belong to it. In addition, headache and limb pain and elevated temperature usually result in an infection with living bacteria.

The body tries to flush the “invaders” and the toxins back out of the body as quickly as possible with this emergency reaction. This usually takes between one day and seven days. Then the symptoms improve by themselves.

Treatment of food poisoning: medication usually not necessary

Drugs against vomiting and diarrhea is in most cases unnecessary and impedes the natural healing effect. During treatment, it is important to replace the lost fluid and electrolytes. Patients must drink enough and eat light meals. Salt sticks, rusk or white bread are very suitable. A crushed banana or a grated apple counteract the diarrhea somewhat.

Also sweetened tea with a pinch of salt helps to replenish the stores and help the bowel return to its normal activity. Only in the case of babies and infants, as well as the elderly and patients with immunodeficiencies is the course to the doctor compulsory. They are given antibiotics against the pathogens. A healthy adult needs to be a doctor only if the symptoms do not improve after a few days, paralysis symptoms or hallucinations are present, or the skin and breath smell of urine. Then there are special forms of food poisoning, which must be treated immediately.

Dangerous case: Botulism

An infection with the bacterium Clostridium botulinum leads to the life threatening disease of the botulism. The bacterium forms in the body a nerve poison, which leads to paralysis, cognitive failures and, in the worst case, the paralysis of the breathing muscles. If this infection is not medically treated, it can be fatal. Due to good hygiene regulations, infection is very rare.

The pathogens are extremely resistant and can survive and multiply even at 100 degrees Celsius or in vacuum packs. Puffed packs and preserves must never be eaten.

Protection against food poisoning: Hygiene is the key

To avoid food poisoning, hygiene is the magic word. In southern and mainly tropical countries of holidays, no tap water should be drunk. Boiled and packaged water are safe alternatives. Whether on holiday or at home: every fruit and vegetable piece that comes to the table should be thoroughly washed before processing. The hands, the crockery and the work surface must be clean and should always be washed during the preparation. Knives and cutting boards that are used to prepare raw meat or raw eggs should not be used for fruit, vegetables or lettuce, as the germs can be transferred.

Meat products and eggs should always be thoroughly cooked before they are consumed. Thus, most bacteria are killed. Food containing dairy products or raw egg must be well cooled and not allowed to store too long. Otherwise the bacteria can multiply and become a danger to the health. For frozen products the cold chain must not be interrupted for too long. These should be the last ones to land in the shopping cart and be transported home in summer in a cool bag. So you keep the risk of food poisoning low.

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