The symptoms of food poisoning vary from person to person, but are usually a result of ingesting contaminated food. You may not feel sick immediately, or your symptoms may appear for weeks. The worst case of food poisoning can be life threatening and may require medical attention. In the United States, the most common cause of food poisoning is Salmonella. Infection with Salmonella can lead to severe dehydration, and the illness can be fatal.
Once you have experienced symptoms of food poisoning, your healthcare provider will determine whether it is bacterial or parasitic. Bloody diarrhea and fever are signs of bacterial or parasitic infections. Antibiotics should be used only when symptoms persist after three to five days. You should never give children anti-diarrhea medicines, since they may worsen their condition. Antibiotics can cause severe side effects, including tendon damage and rupture.
Although Salmonella and E. coli are the most common causes of food poisoning, they can also occur as a result of contaminated water. Salmonella can infect both fresh and unpasteurized food. Symptoms of food poisoning may vary, but generally speaking, the symptoms of food poisoning are the same – a stomachache, diarrhea, fever, or abdominal pain.
Symptoms of food poisoning may vary based on the organ system affected by the contaminated food. Some of the more serious cases include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which is acquired through the consumption of food containing prions, which cause abnormal folding of brain proteins. In some cases, food poisoning symptoms may be similar among people of the same age or with similar medical conditions.
One of the most infamous cases of food poisoning is caused by the consumption of contaminated beef. This contaminated food can transfer the disease to humans, and the bacteria that cause it are responsible for many deaths each year. Most cases of food poisoning will go away on their own, but severe cases may require medical attention. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over a million people experience food poisoning each year, resulting in nearly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths across the world.
In most cases, food poisoning is not life-threatening, but some people may become very sick if their immune system is weakened. As such, it is important to call your doctor if you suspect a food poisoning case. The symptoms of food poisoning may last a few hours or several days, depending on the cause and type of food. While gastrointestinal symptoms may be unpleasant, most do not require medical treatment.
Listeria infection is a particularly serious food borne illness that can cause miscarriage, and should only be treated by a doctor. Symptoms of listeria infection may include nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Pregnancy, Birth and Baby has more information about the symptoms of listeria and the treatments available. If you think you may be suffering from food poisoning, you should visit your doctor right away, especially if you are pregnant or in a high-risk group.