Food Poisoning: what to do when you ingest something contaminated?

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Have you ever experienced food poisoning? We’ve all been there, one minute you are asleep and the next minute you are awake because of severe stomach cramps or abdominal pain because of food poisoning. The first thing you want is to relieve the pain. The good news is that most people get better without any treatment and it recovers on its own, eventually few are facing mild to severe cramps and it usually goes away in a few days. This content provides you with proper knowledge about food poisoning, its causes, and symptoms. So, what causes food poisoning, and how can you prevent it?


Food poisoning is also named as a food-borne illness. Food poisoning happens when you eat or drink something that carries harmful germs (such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites). Bacteria manufactured toxin (poisons of pants and animal origin, produced by microorganisms) in your food and this toxin causes the problem. Food poisoning is caused by vomiting and diarrhea, and often this condition is resolved on its own, while the dehydration or imbalance of electrolytes may develop and your stomach gets upset.

Types of food poisoning

According to Centres For Disease Control CDC, 45-48 million of people are ill due to food poisoning and the most common type of food poisoning bacteria are, Norovirus, Clostridium perfringens, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and campylobacter.


Countless cases of viral gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach) happen, where many people have been eating, it is surely considered as food poisoning. Norovirus is also named as Norwalk virus and it refers to a group of viruses which is found in your stool, vomiting, or infecting an individual. 

This virus is tremendously contagious but not lethal and mostly passes after one or two days. The symptoms which appear due to this virus are vomiting, diarrhea, or cramping of the stomach.


Clostridium is mostly found in the soil and in the intestines of animals (including poultries, cattle, fish, and humans). The food poisoning which is caused by clostridium bacteria is important to know because these bacteria are commonly found in the environment.

An individual who can get clostridium food poisoning is due to poor food handling practices in the home, factories, or in a food outlet, mostly relating to cooking, storage, and refrigeration temperatures.
The symptoms of clostridium food poisoning appear about 12 hours after eating the contaminated (dirty) food and it may include pain, diarrhea, and sometimes nausea and vomiting.


Staphylococcus bacteria are commonly found on your skin, sores (canker sores), infected eyes, in the nose, throat, saliva, and bowel of humans. Their bacteria appears in the yellow mucus which comes from your nose or coughs up when a person has a cold or any lung infections.

Staphylococci bacteria usually do not cause illness until they get on your food then grow and multiply itself. However, they produce a toxin (poison) and this toxin causes the illness. The toxin is generally not destroyed by cooking the food.

Symptoms of staphylococcus bacteria in food poisoning appear between 1-8 hours after eating the infected food.


There are numerous different types of salmonella bacteria but not all salmonella are harmful to human health. Salmonella are found mainly in the intestines, bowels, and feces of humans and animals. An individual can get salmonella food poisoning because of:

  • Poor food handling in-home or outlet of food.
  • Due to seafood because of polluted water.
  • Due to unwashed meal or poultries.

Salmonella food poisoning usually takes up to 48 hours to develop or grow after eating food, and it may include nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, headache, or fever, or it may last for 3-30days.


The campylobacter bacteria are mostly found in many animals (including dogs, cats, cattle, and poultry). The sources of infection from campylobacter are usually contaminated food and water. An individual get this campylobacter food poisoning bacteria from:

  • Contact with infected animals 
  • Poor food handling
  • Ingestion of contaminated food

Campylobacter food poisoning symptoms mostly last from 2-5 days and the symptoms include diarrhea, severe abdominal pain or cramp, vomiting, and fever. 

More serious types of Food poisoning

Some bacteria from food poisoning causes serious illness and makes you very sick, and can even cause death. These are:

Escherichia coli (E.coli)

Escherichia coli is a type of bacteria that is found in the intestines of animals. You can also get this from under-cooked ground beef, unpasteurized milk (which is not pasteurized to kill dangerous bacterias), sprouts, any food or liquid that has contact with animal feces or sewage. E.coli bacteria lead to severe food poisoning which harms human immunity and sometimes it may lead to death.


Listeria is foodborne illness and also named listeriosis and it may not show any sign for couple of weeks. Listeria is an unusual bacterium and it can grow in cold temperatures (such as in the refrigerator). Listeria is found in smoked fish, raw (unpasteurized) cheeses, and ice cream.  An individual with listeria had to face fever, vomiting, and gastrointestinal pain.

What causes food poisoning?

Common causes of food poisoning are bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxin, and allergens.

  1. Bacteria and Viruses: Bacteria and viruses are the most common cause of food poisoning. The symptoms and seriousness of food poisoning vary and it depends on bacteria or virus which has contaminated your food.
  2. Parasites: Parasites are those organisms that obtain the nourishment, sustenance, and protection from other living organisms that are named as hosts.
  3. Mold and Contaminants: Most food poisoning is caused by toxic (poisonous) substances in the food. But in some cases, food poisoning can be linked to the natural toxins or chemical toxins.
  4. Allergens: Allergy with food is an abnormal response in which the food is triggered by your body’s immune system or immunity. Some foods (such as nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans) can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies.

Good to Know

The microbes (organisms that cause diseases) are spread to food at any time while the food is grown, harvested, processed, stored, or prepared. The harmful microbes already are present in your food when you buy them. The foods that contain microbes include fresh produce, raw or under-cooked meat, dairy products, and fresh juices (that have not been pasteurized), processed and ready to eat meats (such as hot dogs, and foods that are not properly sealed and it may cause food poisoning). To prevent these microbes you may cover the food well properly, cook your food properly, and keep your food in refrigerators.

What Symptoms appear when you have Food Poisoning?

The symptoms of food poisoning may range from mild to severe, and it may vary depending on the germs and the contaminated food you swallowed. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Abdominal pain or cramp
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
Food Poisoning: what to do when you ingest something contaminated? 1 - Daily Medicos
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Some serious long-term effects correlated with several types of food poisoning and it may include,

  • Kidney failure
  • Chronic arthritis (inflammation of joints)
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Death

How to prevent Food poisoning?

You can take a few simple and easy steps to avoid or stay away from food poisoning:

Food Poisoning: what to do when you ingest something contaminated? 2 - Daily Medicos
  • You should wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Clean your counter-tops, dining table, breakfast bar, cutting boards, knives, and all utensils before exposing them to different food items.
  • Wash your hands gently after every kitchen or food outlet wok.
  • Don’t put cooked meats on the same plate, use clean ones.
  • If your knives have been used to cut or chop up uncooked chicken, kindly do not use them to cut up other ingredients.
  • Cook your meat thoroughly. Make sure your beef is cooked at least 160°F, chicken at 180°F, and fish at 140°F.
  • Do not use any packaged food that has been expired.
  • Don’t eat wild mushrooms cause it can upset your stomach.
  • If you are pregnant or have a weak immune system, don’t eat soft cheeses.

Treatment of Food Poisoning

Most food poisoning is mild and clear up in a few hours or days. Large amounts of electrolytes, fluids are lost through diarrhea, vomiting. To treat food poisoning you can do the following:

Control nausea or vomiting

  • You should avoid eating solid foods until your vomiting ends. You may eat light and bland foods, (such as saltine crackers, bananas, biscuits, rice, or bread).
  • Don’t eat any fried, spicy, or heavy foods which makes your stomach more irritating. Sipping liquids may help to avoid vomiting.
  • Remember: You should not take any anti-nausea or anti-diarrhea medication without a prescription from your doctor because it has many side effects and can make your condition worse. 

 Prevent dehydration

  • Large amounts of fluids are lost through vomiting and diarrhea that’s why treatment of food poisoning focuses on preventing dehydration. You should drink plenty of fluids, eventually if you have trouble keeping them down. If once you can bear fluids without any vomiting or diarrhea, you add bland food on your diet. While using fluids you’re vomiting or diarrhea can’t persist. You should contact your doctor and they will prescribe medications to suppress your nausea. People with severe types of dehydration may need to be hospitalized.
  • The main goal is to prevent your dehydration, electrolyte imbalance. If this can be prevented from avoiding spice, drink excess fluids so it’s good and once you feel better you may eat and drink again but try to eat bland foods. If it is not treated in this way, you should go to your doctor.

When to call a doctor?

  • If symptoms appear last for more than 3-5 hours  than you should call a doctor immediately or if you have,
  • Severe belly, abdominal pain
  • Fever or impaired immune system
  • Bloody diarrhea or dark stools
  • Vomiting that is prolonged or bloody in your mucus last more than 24 hours
  • Burning maturation or decrease in urine
  • Fatigueness, accompanied by a feeling of extreme weakness, dizziness , or tachycardia 
  • If you are pregnant, you may not wait to notice any symptoms, immediately concerned with your doctor. 

Before you leave!

Food poisoning is a reaction due to contaminated food, or water during improper cooking, handling or storage. The most common type of bacteria, such as salmonella, Campylobacter,and E. coli, and the other contaminants include viruses, parasites and toxins can cause food poisoning. The food poisoning usually leads to diarrhea, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance but it may cure by handling proper hygiene, drink plenty of water to balance your electrolytes.