All foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria. However, improper handling of foods, improper cooking or inadequate storage may result in sufficient numbers of bacteria multiplying to cause disease. Parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals can also contaminate food and cause disease.
Signs and symptoms of food poisoning depend on the source of the contamination and whether you are dehydrated or have low blood pressure. In general these are:
- Abdominal pain
Severe dehydration may cause:
- Drowsiness or fainting, especially on standing [1965901Fastheartbeat
Whether you become ill after eating contaminated food depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, your age and your health. The risk groups include:
- Older adults. With increasing age, your immune system may not respond as quickly and effectively to infectious organisms as it did in the past.
- Infants and toddlers. Your immune system is not fully developed yet.
- People with chronic diseases. A chronic condition such as diabetes or AIDS or chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer reduces your immune response.
If you develop food poisoning:
- Rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- In general, diarrhea medications should be avoided as they can slow down the removal of organisms or toxins from your system. If in doubt, ask your doctor about your particular situation.
- Infants or toddlers should not receive diarrheal medications because of potentially serious side effects.
Foodborne illnesses often improve by themselves within 48 hours. Call your doctor if you think you have a food-borne illness and your symptoms persist for more than two or three days. Call immediately if blood appears in your stool.
Seek medical attention if:
- you have severe symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain or watery diarrhea, which becomes very bloody within 24 hours.
- You suspect botulism poisoning. Botulism is a potentially fatal food poisoning that results from ingesting a toxin produced by certain spores in food. Botulism toxin is most prevalent in home-cooked foods, especially in green beans or tomatoes. Signs and symptoms of botulism usually occur 12 to 36 hours after eating the contaminated food and may include headache, blurred vision, muscle weakness and possible paralysis. Some people also have nausea and vomiting, constipation, urinary retention, difficulty breathing and dry mouth. These signs and symptoms require immediate medical attention.
Release date: 2015-02-07