What is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is caused due to ingesting food or beverages contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Although it is usually not serious, it can take several days to a week for individuals to recover, generally requiring them to rest and recuperate at home.
It is essential to seek medical attention if your condition is especially severe, persists, or is in an "at risk" group. It includes those under 5, over 60, pregnant women, and those with a chronic illness or weakened immune system.
Food Poisoning Symptoms
Consuming contaminated food or beverages can cause food poisoning, with symptoms appearing anywhere from a few hours to several weeks after ingestion.
Diarrhoea and vomiting are the most common signs of infection. However, the severity and type of symptoms may depend on the source.
Additionally, you may have:
- Weakness and a lack of energy
- A fever or high temperature
- A headache
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
- Stomach pain or cramps
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you must seek medical attention immediately:
- Persistent diarrhoea for three or more days
- A temperature of 38.5 Celsius or above
- The presence of blood in the urine or vomit
- Difficulties with speaking or vision
- Muscle weakness or tingling in the arms
- Signs of severe dehydration include dry mouth, excessive thirst, dizziness, lightheadedness, little urination or extreme weakness.
Food Poisoning Diagnosis
You will be asked to describe the symptoms that you are experiencing, how long you have had them, and what you think caused them.
The doctor will likely ask about your recent diet and any recent travels you have gone on. This information can help them accurately diagnose the cause of your food poisoning and determine whether or not you require treatment.
The doctor may recommend further tests if food poisoning is severe or difficult to diagnose. This could include a blood test to determine if bacteria is causing the food poisoning and, if so, if antibiotics are necessary to treat it. It may also involve a stool sample to rule out other health issues.
Food Poisoning Causes
Food poisoning occurs when bacteria, viruses or parasites contaminate food. Among the most common are
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Food Poisoning Treatment
It is usually possible to manage food poisoning at home in most cases.
However, you should consult a medical professional if:
- There is a severe case of food poisoning.
- Your immune system is weakened, making you prone to infection.
- The age factor makes you vulnerable.
- During pregnancy
- Continually occurs
- It is a young person who is suffering,
- You likely have an underlying medical condition.
A doctor will be able to determine whether you need to be treated based on your symptoms and the severity of those symptoms.
- Anti-emetics to stop vomiting
- Oral rehydration solutions
- Antibiotics (if it is a bacterial infection)
Even little sips of fluid are essential, as the condition can dehydrate you.
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Food Poisoning in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, most cases of food poisoning do not cause serious harm to the mother or baby. However, listeria bacteria can be hazardous if contracted in early pregnancy. It can cause miscarriage or, in later stages, stillbirth, premature birth, or fatal infection.
Suppose you are pregnant and have any symptoms related to the flu, such as feeling unwell, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, muscle pains, or a fever. In that case, it is crucial to seek medical help immediately.
Although most cases of food poisoning do not cause significant harm to a pregnant person or their baby, it is still essential to know about the potential risks and seek medical advice if you are concerned. Our doctors are here to provide you with the support, advice and treatment you need.