Is Food Poisoning a Serious Medical Condition?

Illnesses caused due to wrong foods or that are food borne are known as condition of food poisoning. It generally occurs due to consumption of contaminated and spoilt food that becomes toxic in nature. The common symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, nausea or diarrhea. Even though food poisoning causes some grave symptoms, it is not a very unusual condition and occurs quite commonly in most people. A number of people may not have any symptoms arising out of food poisoning while depending upon the infection; some people can also die resulting from a food poisoning infection.

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Dangerous Bacteria That Could Cause Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is a common medical condition that can trigger due to everyday consumable items. Some of these food poisoning causing triggers include:

  • Listeria Bacteria: This bacterium is normally known to contaminate freshly produced fruits like cantaloupes and processed foods like cheese. Some of the symptoms associated with this infection are fever, muscular pains, stomach upset or diarrhea. The symptoms usually occur from 2 days to 2 months of exposure to the bacteria.
  • Campylobacter Infection: Campylobacter is the name of the bacteria that is known to cause acute diarrhea. This infection is normally transmitted through indigested foods that are contaminated with water or unpasteurized milk. Contact of foods with infected babies, pets or wild animals can also lead to the campylobacter infection. This form of infection is accompanied with symptoms like severe diarrhea, vomiting or nausea, pain or cramps in the abdominal area, general feeling of illness and fever. This form of infection can become serious particularly for those suffering from low or compromised immune systems.
  • Salmonellosis infection: This type of food poisoning is caused by Salmonella enterica bacteria infecting the body of the individual. There are various types of these bacteria of which Salmonella serotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis are the most common ones. This infection is more commonly found in the summer rather than the winters. Children are more prone to acquiring this infection. Young kids and senior citizens with weak immunity function poisoning are more prone to acquiring this infection. Although most people do recover from this infection, in some cases this infection can cause other underlying medical complications. To avoid this form of food poisoning it is important to avoid eating raw or undercooked meats and poultry. It is important to exercise basic hygiene when it comes to preparing food like washing the utensils well and washing of hands well before cooking meals.
  • Shigella: This is another type of bacteria that causes food poisoning and is normally transmitted through feces. This form of food poisoning leads to dysentery which is an infection of the intestines that leads to severe diarrhea. This disease mainly occurs in tropical or temperate climatic regions or in conditions with poor personal hygiene practices. To avoid shigella infection it is extremely crucial to wash hands each time after using the restroom or after changing diapers.
  • coli infection: This is another form of bacterial infection that is often caused by eating undercooked or contaminated foods like beef. Drinking unpasteurized milk or contaminated water can also cause this form of infection. Symptoms of a severe E.coli infection could include bloody diarrhea and cramps in the abdominal region. However sometimes this infection may cause no symptoms at all. In some cases like in children below 5 years of age or in aged people, this infection could cause some serious medical conditions like destruction of red blood cells or kidney failure.
  • Botulism: This form of food poisoning is caused by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum is responsible which causes a rare but a grave medical condition known as botulism. According to health care departments there are three types of botulism i.e. food borne, wound caused, and infant botulism. Food borne botulism is generally triggered by eating foods that are infected by the botulism toxin. Wound botulism, is a rather rare form of infection and is normally triggered by a toxin that is produced from a wound that is infected by C. botulinum. Infant botulism is triggered by spores of botulinum bacteria that thrive and grow in the intestines of a child. All forms of botulism are considered as deadly and medical emergencies.

How can Food Poisoning be prevented?

  • Food poisoning as the name suggests generally occurs from eatables. Hence, it is extremely important to keep your kitchen clean. Wash and sanitize your kitchen counters, chopping boards and other utensils regularly to prevent bacteria from thriving on them.
  • Always follow the practice of washing your hands before cooking and before eating.
  • Always check the dates and other guidelines of food labels to avoid buying or using expired products.
  • Exercise special care and vigilance when storing or cooking meat, poultry or seafood. Always store raw foods separately from the other foods. After cutting raw meat ensure you clean the knife and the chopping board before using it to cut other vegetables.
  • Wash your hands using soap after handling raw food items. Also ensure you wash the utensils and the surfaces used to cut these products.
  • Make sure you follow all precautions regarding usage or storing that may be mentioned on food labels.
  • Always rinse uncooked food before consuming including fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook foods like meat or poultry completely and avoid partially cooked food.
  • Always refrigerate left over foods like meat, sea food, dairy products, eggs etc and consume as soon as possible.
  • Try and eat foods as soon as they are cooked.
  • Do not keep leftover food for a long time and in case of a doubt throw them out.
  • Avoid giving honey to infants as it could increase the risk of botulism.

Can Food Poisoning Become Dangerous?

While food poisoning is not a very serious condition and can be easily treated through antibiotics, certain bacterial infections can trigger a more serious form of food poisoning that can take a toll on one’s health and cause other forms of medical complications. Any symptoms of food poisoning can suddenly worsen and hence must be taken seriously. Do not neglect symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting as it could induce weakness in no time.

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