Food poisoning generally does not go unnoticed. In summer it is more frequent than at other times of the year, evidently because food spoils more easily in the heat.
It can cause mild and more vague or frank and severe symptoms; it can last just a few hours or a couple of days, if not weeks; symptoms can arise after short incubation periods up to a few weeks.
So let’s see what food poisoning is, what the symptoms are, what to eat and how to behave when they arise, and what to do to prevent them.
What Is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is a disease caused by the ingestion of food generally contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or their toxins which, even in the absence of the microbial agent, once ingested, cause intoxication.
Apart from food poisoning caused by pathogenic microorganisms, there are also food poisonings caused by chemicals released into food, contaminating it: for example, poisoning from pesticides used in agriculture, where these are deposited in the food to an extent exceeding the limits permitted by law. Usually, it does not happen precisely by virtue of the checks carried out, but the pollution of water and aquifers by pollutants, pesticides or not, is potentially dangerous.
Another case apart is that of food poisoning caused by inedible mushrooms because they are poisonous: in these cases, the mushroom is naturally toxic, and eating it will condemn us to full-blown intoxication, sometimes even fatal.
In general, the most common food poisonings resolve themselves in a short time, a few days, or at most a week; they rarely lead to hospitalization or last a long time. As already mentioned, they can arise after hours, days, or even a few weeks after ingestion of the food. Food contamination can occur at any point in the production, marketing, purchase, and consumption of the food product: from the manufacturing company, to transport to the store, to handle at home, to final cooking.
How Food Poisoning Is Treated
In case of food poisoning, we must not take drugs that stop diarrhea or vomiting unless prescribed by the doctor.
We must drink in small sips, especially if there is vomiting: in this way, it is more likely that we will be able to retain fluids in the stomach and not vomit them after having taken them.
It is not necessary to eat unless you feel like it: if you prefer to stay fast there is no contraindication to doing so.
The same thing is not true for water: we must make sure to take it because otherwise, we risk dehydration. Together with the water, according to our conditions, the doctor may indicate the use of a saline rehydrating solution: sachets of salts to be dissolved in water and to be drunk in small sips, little by little.
In case you want to eat, the meals must be small and easily digestible.
What To Eat After Food Poisoning
You go back to eating only when you feel like it if in fact the stomach and intestines rest a little, and this can be good for them. Instead, the indication to drink regularly persists.
Therefore, when you want to go back to eating, it is advisable to eat light, simple, easy-to-digest, lightly seasoned foods and only with raw extra virgin olive oil.
There is no need to flavor food with a lot of salt, convinced that cooking food can replenish the lost minerals. To replenish the mineral salts lost during the episode of food poisoning, it is necessary to continue drinking water in the quantity that we realize that our stomach can tolerate, therefore even a little at a time, but drink it regularly and, if necessary, use saline solutions. rehydrators I have already mentioned. Usually, these solutions are taken only in the acute phase of intoxication, when one eats and drinks very little; from the moment in which we return to eating regularly, albeit with the limitations of the case, they are instead replaced by the food and liquids that we resume consuming.
How To Prevent Food Poisoning
To prevent food poisoning, and reduce the chances of encountering this problem, we can implement some correct hygienic behaviors which are:
- washing hands before eating or handling food (when preparing meals for example)
- wash the kitchen counter or utensils, knives, spoons, bowls, cutting boards, etc. after using them to prepare food, especially when it comes to foods such as meat, fish, eggs, unwashed vegetables
- wash fruit and vegetables, even if the fruit is eaten peeled
- cook food thoroughly or, if leftover from a previous meal, reheat it thoroughly
- store food properly (in the freezer, in the fridge, in a dry and dry place, in the dark, according to the directions on the food label)
- defrost food in the refrigerator and not outside
- keep raw and cooked foods away from those that are ready for consumption, to avoid cross-contamination between the two
- consume food by the expiration date marked on the package
- do not let those who are sick handle the food
- buy adequate quantities of food for consumption, especially in summer
- do not consume the product if it is not “safe” to the eye, smell, and touch
Foods At Risk Of Food Poisoning
Some foods are more at risk of causing food poisoning because they can prove to be a perfect habitat for the proliferation of pathogenic microorganisms.
- eggs if eaten raw or undercooked; preparations, condiments (mayonnaise), and raw egg-based creams
- unpasteurized milk or dairy products
- unpasteurized fruit juices
- blue cheeses or raw milk cheeses
- raw or undercooked meat or fish (sushi and sashimi; raw salmon; marinated anchovies that have not been previously chilled or frozen; raw shellfish)
In all likelihood, the doctor, once the symptoms arise, will ask us what we ate. It is good to remember it because it is a relevant anamnestic in understanding the disease and its resolution times: most food poisonings have a simple and short evolution, but some can be more thorny, require investigations, and have longer recovery times. long.
Symptoms of a food poisoning
Symptoms of food poisoning are:
- nausea or malaise not better defined
- He retched
- stomach pains
- abdominal pain
- muscle aches
- signs of dehydration, in conditions of more protracted malaise
You should contact your doctor if:
- to feel bad is a child, the smaller the child is
- a frail elderly person or a person who is not self-sufficient or with previous illnesses feels bad
- diarrhea has traces of blood
- the vomit has traces of blood
- diarrhea lasts for more than three days
- the person cannot retain the fluids they ingest due to vomiting
- episodes of diarrhea are frequent throughout the day and incoercible
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