Food poisoning is a food borne illness that occurs after the ingestion of contaminated food or drinks with microorganisms (bacteria, viruses or parasites). These bacteria then begin to produce toxins which lead to a whole lot of symptoms like abdominal discomfort, nausea, fever, malaise, vomiting and diarrhoea. However, the most common sign for food poisoning is vomiting and diarrhoea. These symptoms could range from few hours following ingestion of contaminated food or drink through days depending on the cause of contamination and the amount of contaminated food or drink consumed.

The following pathogens account for 91 percent of all food-borne illnesses in the United States. They include:

  • Norovirus(commonly found in oysters, fruits, and vegetables)
  • Salmonella(commonly found in eggs, meat, and dairy products)
  • Clostridium perfringens (found in meat and poultry)
  • Campylobacter (found in undercooked meat and contaminated water)
  • Staphylococcus(found in animal products such as cream, eggs, and milk).

Salmonella and norovirus are responsible for the most hospitalizations due to food poisoning.

Causes of food poisoning

  • Consumption of unwashed fruits and veggies
  • Consumption of raw and undercooked meat or fish
  • Undercooked vegetables
  • Unpasteurized dairy products e.g. Milk
  • Consumption of uncovered foods infested by flies
  • Consumption of food prepared with unwashed hands
  • Drinking of unboiled or unfiltered water

Treatment of food poisoning

Most food poisoning can be treated at home with remedies if symptoms experienced are mild. Such remedies include;

  • Hydration: Regular intake of drinks to replace fluids and electrolyte lost through diarrhoea is crucial. water can be fortified with oral rehydration salt so as to ensure replacement of lost electrolytes.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks: These drinks if consumed can increase the stomach irritation, worsening the abdominal cramps.
  • Over-the counter medications: drugs like Imodium can be used to treat diarrhoea. However, if the symptoms become severe, see a doctor immediately. Antibiotics can also be used in the eradication of the offending bacteria.
  • Rest: it is crucial to have adequate rest to conserve your energy and reduce the motility in the intestines. Avoid taking any food and limit drinks to barest minimum.
  • Adjust your diet: You should put aside solid and hard foods and eat more of easy-to digest meals e.g. Oatmeal, banana, rice and bland potatoes.
  • See the doctor for immediate attention if you notice any of the following; the diarrhoea lasts for more than 3 days, frequent vomiting for more than 2 days and blood in stool.

 

Prevention

  • Ensure your wash all cooking utensils thoroughly before use.
  • Clean countertops, cutting boards, knives, and utensils before exposing them to different food items.
  • Wash hands before coming in contact with consumable food items.
  • Do not attempt to cook if you have any wound or discharge
  • Wash the surface where food is to be prepared thoroughly before use
  • Ensure that all fruits and vegetables are thoroughly washed and free of dirt before consumption
  • Limit your conversation when food is being prepared.
  • Use clean uncontaminated water to prepare food before consumption
  • Avoid the consumption of raw meat and fish.
  • Thoroughly cook all raw meat of poultry products before they are consumed.
  • Avoid the consumption of unpasteurised milk.
  • All food containers should be adequately covered with appropriate fitted lids.
  • Food should be prepared in clean and ventilated areas
  • Wash your hands after toilet use to prevent contact with food
  • To limit stomach cramps and irritation avoid consuming the following foods:
  •      Dairy products especially milk and cheese
  •      Fatty foods
  •      Highly seasoned foods
  •      Spicy foods
  •      Fried foods
  •      Caffeine (soda, energy drinks, coffee)
  •      Alcohol
  •      Nicotine
  • Avoid consuming vegetables and fruits when you are experiencing food poisoning.
  • Refrigerate uncooked food if it’s not going to be eaten in the next 4 hours
  • Throw away food in bulging cans
  • Do not eat wild mushrooms as it can be poisonous.
  • Do not wear packaged food that has expired.
  • When at restaurants or social gatherings avoid consuming foods that has been left out of the refrigerator for a long time.
  • Avoid drinking unfiltered or unboiled water.
  • If you often have allergy after the consumption of a particular food please avoid totally.
  • Avoid drinking milk if you are intolerant to it.