Food poisoning signs and symptoms

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When it comes to bacterial food poisoning, the signs and symptoms typically include digestive system complaints and usually start in just a few hours after eating the contaminated food. Nevertheless, it can also take up to a few days to start, depending on the bacteria present.

Signs and symptoms

These are the signs and symptoms that you should watch out for if you suspect that an individual is suffering from food poisoning.

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Tenderness of the abdomen

Infants, young children, elderly, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system should seek medical attention right away if food poisoning is suspected. It is also important to seek medical care if the signs and symptoms of food poisoning do not improve in a day or two.

Most cases of food poisoning occur during the summer months when the growth of bacteria is faster during the warm temperatures. Due to the festivities that involves eating out or picnicking during the summer, it can increase the occurrence of food poisoning if one is not careful in handling food or proper hygienic measures are not observed.

How to prevent food poisoning

There are important steps to be familiar with in order to prevent food poisoning from developing.

  • Always wash hands before handling and cooking food and before eating meals.
  • Use utensils and kitchen tools that are clean and avoid cross contaminating the raw poultry and meats with fruits and vegetables.
  • Always keep raw eggs, meat and poultry away from other foods that are ready to be served.
  • When it comes to fresh fruits, vegetables and bagged beans, they should be properly washed.
  • Cold foods should be refrigerated below 40 degrees F.
  • Poultry must be cooked up to 165 degrees.
  • Hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees or higher.
  • Foods that are reheated must be heated to 165 degrees before served.

Bacteria causing food poisoning

Food poisoning is typically caused by bacteria, but ingesting certain foods such as shellfish, mushrooms or seafood taken from contaminated water can manifest similar symptoms. Take note that these forms of food poisoning are considered as medical emergencies and should be treated right away.

Common bacteria involved in food poisoning:

  • E. coli
  • Salmonella
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Botulinum
  • Cholera
  • Campylobacter
  • Listeria
  • Shigella

When to call for emergency assistance

food poisoning
If signs of shock are present, seek immediate medical care.

You have to call for emergency assistance if an individual has these symptoms, even if the abdominal symptoms are present or not.

  • Indications of shock which includes shallow breathing, frail or fast pulse, chills or shaking and cold skin.
  • Chest pain
  • Symptoms of severe dehydration such as dry mouth, dizziness, decreased urine output, fatigue, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, increased heart rate and breathing.
  • Confusion

Always remember that any case of food poisoning should be treated right away. Any delay on the appropriate medical interventions can result to the worsening of the condition of the individual or even death in some cases.


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