Many of us have experienced food poisoning. And boy is it unpleasant!
Infectious organism – including bacteria, viruses and parasites- or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning. Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food at any point of processing or production. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked.
Food poisoning is very common. Most cases aren’t severe enough to require hospitalization. According to the CDC, about 48 million people experience some type of food poisoning each year in the United States
- Upset stomach.
- Stomach cramps.
What can you do to help relieve symptoms of food poisoning?
If you have symptoms of food poisoning, it is very important to drink fluids to reduce your risk of becoming dehydrated. Doctors usually do not recommend taking over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication because your body needs to get rid of the toxins that are making you sick.
To relieve some of the symptoms of food poisoning, hydration is key. You can:
- Drink broth and electrolytes to replace fluids you have lost. Fluids and electrolytes – minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in your body – lost to persistent diarrhea need to be replaced. Some children and adults with persistent diarrhea or vomiting may need hospitalization, where they can receive salts and fluids through a vein (intravenously), to prevent or treat dehydration
- Try Popsicles or other frozen juice.
- Avoid eating until you feel better – let your stomach settle. Stop eating and drinking for a few hours
- Take small bites of bland food such as toast or crackers when you feel ready to start eating again.
- Get lots of rest.
How can you prevent food poisoning?
You can reduce your risk of foodborne illness by practicing food safety. Pregnant women and others with a higher risk of food poisoning should be especially careful when handling and consuming food. Food safety practices include:
- Staying clean: Wash your hands, utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces often. Rinse fruits and vegetables under water before eating.
- Avoiding cross-contamination: Use separate cutting boards and keep raw meat, seafood, and eggs away from other foods. Don’t rinse raw poultry under water because you can spread germs to other surfaces. If you are making a salad, make it and put it into the refrigerator before you touch any kind of raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
- Cooking thoroughly: Make sure food is cooked to a safe internal temperature, which varies depending on the type of food you’re cooking. Always use a food thermometer to check the temperature.
- Chilling food: Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and refrigerate or freeze prepared food within 2 hours. Thaw food in the refrigerator or microwave, never on the counter.
- Making smart food choices: Avoid unpasteurized cheese and milk, also called raw milk. Don’t eat food that looks or smells rotten, and toss out expired food.
- Listening to food recalls: Pay attention to announcements of food recalls, and follow the directions to throw the food away or return to the store.
- Making reports to your public health department: If you think you have a foodborne illness, report it to your city or county health department. Even if you are not sure which food caused the problem, reporting it may help the department narrow down a problem and prevent it from happening to someone else. This is especially important if you feel as though you got it from dining at a restaurant.
Food poisoning usually resolves on its own in 1-2 days.
If your symptoms last longer than 24 hours – it is recommended you speak with a doctor immediately.