Consuming food that is contaminated usually leads to food poisoning. The toxins responsible for the condition are: Parasites, bacteria, infectious organisms and viruses. These toxins find their way to the food during production and/or processing. Poisoning may also take place at home when food is cooked incorrectly or handled with little regard to proper hygiene. For mild cases, the condition resolves itself in 48 hours but for severe cases, hospitalization may be required.
What Are the Symptoms of Food Poisoning?
The symptoms vary according to the cause of the contamination. There are some common signs to look out for such as:
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal pain
The symptoms become visible after a few hours of consuming the food. In some rare cases, they may take days or even weeks to appear. Expect to fully recover from the ordeal within a period of a few days.
There are some food poisoning symptoms that require immediate medical attention. These include:
- Frequent vomiting
- Blood vomits
- Severe diarrhea that lasts for over three days
- Blood-stained stool
- Excessive dehydration that leads to weakness, dry mouth or dizziness
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Trouble speaking
What is the First Aid for Food Poisoning?
There are several things that you can do to keep the situation under control:
- Drink plenty of water. This will combat the effects of dehydration and help to replenish the body.
- Rest for a while. If you’re feeling dizzy, taking a short nap will make you feel better.
- Make a solution of water (preferably warm), lemon juice, salt and sugar. By drinking this solution, you’ll be able to enjoy temporary relief from diarrhea.
- Eat light meals such as plain rice, toast, bananas and crackers.
- Alleviate inflammation by taking 2 teaspoons of pure honey.
On the other hand, there are things that should be avoided when dealing with food poisoning such as:
- Unpasteurized milk and milk products like cheese and yoghurt.
- Eating raw food like fish, beef, eggs or chicken.
- Consuming foods that have expired or are releasing unusual odor.
- Storing cooked and raw food together in the refrigerator. This normally causes cross-contamination.
- Using dirty utensils for cooking.
- Buying food items that have cracked or defective seals.
Tips for Preventing Food Poisoning:
- Practice proper hygiene when handling and preparing food. Wash hands thoroughly after visiting the lavatory or touching unclean surfaces.
- Towels used for drying utensils must be washed regularly. Ensure that they’re completely dry before reusing them.
- Raw veggies, fruits and meat products should all be prepared on different chopping boards to eliminate cross-contamination. It’s prudent to purchase one for each category.
- Foods that are normally eaten raw, like fruits and veggies, should be washed thoroughly to eliminate bacteria.
- Never drink unpasteurized fruit juices.
- Foods such as kebabs, sausages, poultry, burgers and pork should be cooked until they’re scorching hot.
- Drink purified water only. You can also boil water to kill germs.