Those who have had food poisoning at some point — that’s many of us — know it is extremely unpleasant.
Do you think you have food poisoning?
Yes, you have been so careful where you eat and preparing your own food in your kitchen.
Okay, but you still have food poisoning, so how did you get it?
Detective Foodsafe® understands your frustration.
Unfortunately, the statistics bear out the fact that we are all risk to get sick from the food we eat.
The more steps we take to lower our risk, the more it reduces the likelihood to get sick, of course, but does not eliminate it.
But how do you know if it is really food poisoning?
Detective Foodsafe heard recently that recent research findings seem to indicate that there is probably not much true gastrointestinal (GI) illness caused by a “stomach virus,’ often called stomach flu. The experts are beginning to believe that food poisoning is the actual cause of GI symptoms previously thought to be from a stomach bug.
Let that sink in for a minute – no such thing as stomach virus. It was something you ate or drank!
The jury may still be out on that idea but it is interesting to think we are making ourselves sick.
Here is some good information that Detective Foodsafe wants to share to help you determine if your tummy trouble comes from what you ate.
What is Food Poisoning
Food poisoning occurs when a contaminant such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins is present in a food or beverage we consume.
‘Food poisoning’ and ‘foodborne illness’ are terms used interchangeably.
As many as one in six of us will get food poisoning this year. A strong immune system will help your body fight foodborne illness once you ingest a contaminant.
Some people are more at risk from contaminated food and drinks, including:
- older adults (65+);
- those with weak immune systems due to chronic disease, dialysis, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS; and,
- those undergoing cancer therapy; pregnant women and children under 5 years.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Food poisoning usually resolves anywhere from days to weeks depending on the type of contaminant you ingested.
In the meantime, the person who is a victim of food poisoning will experience one or many of these symptoms:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Bloody or watery diarrhea
- Blurry vision, slurred speech
- Difficulty swallowing, dry mouth
- Weakness, paralysis
Symptoms can begin only a few hours after eating contaminated food or drinks or take days, or even weeks, to appear.
Download Detective Foodsafe’s guide, Symptoms and Sources of Common Food Poisoning Germs.
What Are the Potential Medical Consequences?
For the majority of people, food poisoning can be an inconvenient gastrointestinal illness that keeps us from participating in our usual routine until the illness resolves.
However, some people can have long-term and life-changing effects from a case of foodborne illness. It is estimated that as many as 200,000 people each year will suffer long-term health consequences.
Detective Foodsafe warns that food poisoning can even be deadly for some people.
Common devastating medical complications include these conditions.
A serious illness that can occur following infection from E. Coli bacteria when the infection creates a toxic substance that destroys red blood cells, ultimately damaging the kidneys.
Children are more susceptible to this disease.
As many as 33,000 people a year can get reactive arthritis when Shigella, Campylobacter, or Salmonella develops in the joints.
This can last a long time, months or even years, leading to chronic arthritis.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Chronic gastrointestinal problems such as gas, pain, cramps, diarrhea, bloating, and constipation can remain with a person after suffering from a foodborne illness.
Some estimate as many as 164,000 a year will develop IBS.
Infection with Listeria can lead to meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain.
Campylobacter can trigger a case of Guillain-Barre syndrome.
This causes a person’s own immune system to attack nerves throughout the body. Paralysis can occur which usually resolves in a few weeks. However, some may have difficulty walking after an illness.
Unfortunately, as many as 3,000 people will die annually as a result of foodborne illness.
There is no real way to determine in advance who will become a victim of food poisoning or who will suffer long-term effects, but we do know that people who are vulnerable have a higher risk.
The best defense is a good offense when it comes to facing long-term health consequences from food poisoning.
You can protect yourself from becoming a victim by practicing safe food handling, washing your hands often, being aware of the food safety practices of the restaurants you choose, and staying healthy to maintain a strong immune system.
Detective Foodsafe will continue to bring you strategies to stay healthy and tips for food safety!