According to the CDC, about 48 million people become ill each year from food poisoning. Here’s how to recognize the most common food poisoning symptoms.
Contrary to popular belief, food poisoning does not immediately send you to the bathroom by holding your stomach after consuming a mouthful of contaminated food. Sweating may be one of the early signs of food poisoning – and an indication of the worsening of the situation. If fever and sweating make you think you have a stomach virus, try to remember if you have eaten something suspicious in recent days. It can be easy to confuse food poisoning with flu
Stomach cramps and flatulence are good signs that your stomach is covered with a food virus, according to the Mayo Clinic. They often precede a frantic race in the bathroom. If the pain in the abdomen makes you double and goes to the toilet, it’s a good sign – and unfortunate – that bad bacteria are at work in your gut.
Nausea and vomiting
While nausea and vomiting are hallmarks of food poisoning, the speed with which symptoms will appear will depend on the bacterial strain that made you sick. For example, Listeria, commonly found in deli meats, hummus, raw milk and soft cheeses, can trigger symptoms between three and 70 days after exposure, while Salmonella, contaminant including eggs, meat (especially poultry) and fruits Vegetables can cause symptoms within 12 to 72 hours, says Sandra Elizabeth Ford, director of district health board of health DeKalb County, Decatur, Georgia.
Diarrhea is another of the most obvious signs of food poisoning, but how do you know if it is caused by a stomach virus or contaminated food? Clues can be found in the type of diarrhea. Norovirus is the most common cause of stomach flu and can be transmitted through food handled by a contaminated individual. It causes watery diarrhea, most often in adults. Meanwhile, E. coli (known to contaminate beef and raw vegetables) and Campylobacter (often found in undercooked poultry and contaminated water) can both cause bloody diarrhea. “If bloody diarrhea or any other symptom is severe, see a doctor,” says Dr. Ford. Symptoms can last from one to ten days, depending on the type of infection.
Some types of bacteria, such as Listeria and Campylobacter, can cause fever, although it is probably accompanied by digestive symptoms. If the fever persists for more than 48 hours, call a doctor, says Dr. Ford.
If your brain starts to feel confused, do not ignore it: Listeria can cause this symptom and it may not appear for two months or more after the infection. You may also notice a stiff neck or general weakness that are also signs of food poisoning. Tell Dr. Ford if there is an unexplained mental change.
If you experience symptoms that are also signs of food poisoning, the first thing to do is to hydrate yourself. “Drink lots of water or electrolyte-enriched solutions, such as Pedialyte or Gatorade,” says Rais Vohra, MD, medical director of California’s poison control system, Fresno / Madera Division. Avoid sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages because they can dehydrate, he adds. Nibble small bites of bland foods, such as bananas, white rice or toast, also known as the BRAT diet.
What foods should I look for?
You can have food poisoning just about anything, but the culprits include raw or undercooked meat, raw fruits and vegetables that have not been thoroughly washed, unpasteurized milk and all that is stayed in the refrigerator for long periods.
How can I protect myself?
You can only do a lot when it comes to eating out or eating prepared meals at the grocery store. But when cooking at home, it is important to handle food safely, including keeping your work space and utensils clean (especially after handling raw meat), washing raw products, keeping food at the proper temperature, monitor the expiration dates and aware of how long you keep the leftovers. l