How do I manage this wretched food poisoning?
July 16, 2021
The CDC estimates that 48 million people (or 1 in 6 Americans) get sick each year from foodborne diseases, or food poisoning.
The symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to severe, depending on which germ you ingest, how much of that germ was in the food, and how much of that germ you ingested, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms, so you can act immediately if you become ill.
“Anyone can get food poisoning, but certain populations are more likely to get sick or experience serious illness” says Texas MedClinic Chief Operating Officer and practicing physician Dr. David Gude. “Adults over the age of 65, children under the age of 5 years, pregnant women, and those with underlying health problems or who take medications that lower the body’s ability to fight infections are at a higher risk of serious illness.”
Typical symptoms of food poisoning include:
- Stomach Upset and/or Cramping
Most people experience stomach cramps/nausea/vomiting first, which can last 12-24 hours. Diarrhea tends to start after nausea and vomiting. It will take one week, in most cases, for the diarrhea to resolve. The inner lining of the gut is stripped away and flushed with the first round of diarrhea. It takes about 5 days for those cells to regrow and thus the normal pattern of stools to return.
Symptoms can take hours or days to present. If you suffer from vomiting and/or diarrhea, it is important to consume plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.
Some symptoms are more serious and require immediate medical attention. See your health care provider if you experience:
- A fever of 102° or higher when taken by mouth
- Frequent vomiting that prohibits the consumption of liquids and can lead to dehydration
- Bloody diarrhea or diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days
- The presentation of dehydration symptoms (little to no urination, dry mouth and/throat, dizziness upon standing)
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, following these 4 steps can reduce your risk of contracting a foodborne illness:
- Clean – Wash your hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces often when cooking.
- Separate – Keep fresh produce away from raw meats, seafood, and eggs. Use separate cutting boards and plates for raw and fresh foods.
- Cook – Cook all foods to the proper temperature to kill germs. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of cooked foods.
- Chill – Keep your refrigerator at 40° and refrigerate perishable foods and leftovers within 2 hours (or within 1 hour if it is above 90°F outdoors)
Those at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from food poisoning should also avoid:
- Undercooked or raw animal products (meats, egg, and seafood)
- Unpasteurized or raw milks and juices
- Raw or lightly cooked sprouts
- Soft cheeses unless made with pasteurized milk
If you or someone you love is experiencing food poisoning symptoms, staying hydrated is key. Consider:
- Sucking on ice chips or popsicles
- Consume electrolytes in the form of sports drinks or Pedialyte to stay hydrated and replenish vitamins and minerals. Drink 2 – 4 ounces at a time, taking care to sip slowly.
- Give your stomach time to settle. Avoid introducing food in the 4 -5 hours following a bout of vomiting and/or diarrhea.
- Introduce bland foods slowly and follow the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apples/applesauce, toast)
- Avoid dairy products, fried, greasy, fatty, or spicy foods, raw vegetables, and high protein foods like steak, pork, and salmon.
If you experience symptoms for more than 3 days, it is time to see a doctor and Texas MedClinic is here to help.