As the name implies, it is a disease after eating contaminated food (even if the food does not look, or smells bad).
Every year, millions of people around the world get food poisoning.
And although most cases of food poisoning cause mild or moderate discomfort, it is not harmless, and every year there are thousands of people who are hospitalized each year and a no less important number of people die from food poisoning annually.
To protect yourself and your family it is necessary to know the signs of food poisoning and accelerate your recovery if you have a case of food poisoning with these tips and natural strategies.
Also known as ” foodborne illness “, it can be classified into two types:
- Foodborne infection caused by eating food that has been contaminated with live bacteria.
- Foodborne poisonings caused by toxins produced by bacteria in food.
No matter what category you are affected into, they all share the common signs of food poisoning.
Signs of food poisoning
Because bacteria or toxins from bacteria are carried into your body through food, the symptoms of food poisoning are focused on the gastrointestinal system. That is why one of the most common signs of food poisoning is diarrhea.
Other signs of food poisoning include:
- Cramps in the stomach
- Abdominal pain.
- General fatigue or exhaustion.
Causes of food poisoning and risk factors
Salmonella bacteria are one of the most common causes of food poisoning, but it is not the only bacteria that may be lurking in your food. The five main groups of bacteria behind most foodborne illnesses are:
1. Salmonella and Campylobacter
If you eat a lot of eggs, meat, or poultry, you are at risk for these bacteria. These bacteria live in the digestive tracts of animals, hence the increased risk associated with eating meat, poultry, and eggs (especially if the food is undercooked).
There are also occasional outbreaks of removed vegetables and fruits that have been contaminated by dirty surfaces or animal feces.
2.- Clostridium perfringens
This bacteria can be found in unpasteurized dairy products or raw meats, as well as in raw products that have touched the ground. Common cases of food poisoning include eating meat-based soups or stews that are not properly refrigerated.
Sources of Listeria include unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses made from milk that is not pasteurized, and deli meats (including cold cuts and hot dogs).
4. Staphylococcus aureus
If someone is sick with a staph infection, the bacteria can end up in food that the sick person touched. Common foods that have caused outbreaks include unrefrigerated egg salad.
5. Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Beef, especially ground beef products, is the main risk from E. coli. It can spread to other foods through dirty water or dirty surfaces.
These are just a few of the most common bacteria responsible for food poisoning. There are hundreds more, including Vibrio vulnificus and hepatitis A.
Additional risk factors
In addition to eating or touching food that has been contaminated, lifestyle and demographic details can also present additional risks.
- Children under 5 years old: Their immune system has not developed enough to withstand foodborne illness.
- Adults over 65: Not only are older immune systems less resilient, but older adults have a harder time recovering. Almost 50 percent of older adults who become ill require hospitalization.
- Pregnant women : Pregnancy leaves women more vulnerable to specific bacteria. For example, a pregnant woman has a 10 times greater risk of getting listeria than a woman who is not pregnant.
How long does it take to get food poisoning after eating something?
Because there are many different bacteria that contribute to food poisoning, there is no clear timeline or answer to the question, “How long does food poisoning take?”
However, in some cases, the signs of food poisoning are activated within a few hours after eating a meal.
How long does food poisoning last? What is the food poisoning timeline?
Most food poisoning goes away within 48 hours, but signs of food poisoning can last up to 10 days.
To diagnose whether or not you have food poisoning, your doctor will ask you detailed questions about your signs of food poisoning, when you started experiencing them, and what foods you have recently eaten.
Then your doctor can perform a physical evaluation to assess how dehydrated you are (dehydration is one of the key concerns when it comes to foodborne illness).
If your doctor wants additional confirmation, they may run a series of tests, such as checking your stool for parasites, or running a blood test to make sure another illness or infection isn’t causing the signs of food poisoning.
Food poisoning vs. stomach flu
If you’re wondering if it’s the stomach flu or food poisoning, you’re not alone. It’s easy to confuse the two conditions, because the symptoms of stomach flu and the signs of food poisoning are very similar.
However, a stomach flu (also known as a stomach infection or viral gastroenteritis) is caused by a virus, not bacteria.
That being said, in terms of stomach flu vs. food poisoning, the symptoms of stomach upset, treatment, and timeline are largely the same as those of food poisoning signs.
Therefore, the distinction for most people becomes confusing.
How to get rid of food poisoning
Most of the time, food poisoning cases resolve on their own. The goal of most conventional treatments is to keep dehydration at bay.
Due to nausea and vomiting, many people with food poisoning lose a lot of fluids, and it is the resulting dehydration that poses additional health problems.
Your doctor will likely suggest that you rest and increase your fluid intake through soups, broths, juices, and water.
In more extreme cases, especially if side effects come into play like very high food poisoning, fever, or additional infections, the doctor may prescribe medications such as antibiotics to eradicate food poisoning.
However, in the absence of these, most cases of foodborne illness can run their course while your body recovers naturally.
5 natural ways to aid recovery from food poisoning
What is the best remedy for food poisoning?
Because food poisoning must run its course, the goal is to speed your recovery and help relieve symptoms while you are experiencing them.
1. Stay hydrated with herbs
You should drink plenty of fluids to help you recover from your food poisoning. Double the health benefits with herbs infused in your water.
Try ginger, for example. Its benefits against nausea are very effective; from pregnant women to those receiving chemotherapy have used it to combat nausea.
Add some fresh ginger root to hot water and enjoy. Peppermint or chamomile teas can also help hydrate you while reducing nausea and vomiting.
2. Change your diet
When you experience the symptoms of food poisoning and fight bacteria, don’t put unnecessary strain on your stomach and digestive system. These organs are already in danger, and by emphasizing them even more, you will worsen your symptoms and prolong your recovery.
Eat soft, easy-to-digest foods. That means smaller meals, no fatty or spicy foods and extra starches.
3. Relax your muscles
Muscle relaxation can help improve everything from nausea to cramps, and by relaxing your body, you can enter a deeper state of rest in which your body can more effectively recover.
One technique used to combat nausea, for example, is progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). It involves focusing on your different muscle groups and consciously tensing them up and then relaxing them.
Other methods to relax muscles and potentially relieve disease-related cramps and nausea include:
- Slow stretching.
- Deep breathing.
4. Freshen the air with aromatherapy
Aromatherapy consists of awakening the senses and evoking certain feelings through the power of aroma.
For centuries, essential oils have been used to treat everything from headaches to dizziness.
Depending on your food poisoning symptoms, you may want to consider it.
For example, peppermint oil can help reduce nausea and rosemary oil can help reduce the fatigue that accompanies illness.
5. Focus on electrolytes
When you lose more fluids than you take in, like many people do when they have a foodborne illness, you are at risk for electrolyte depletion.
Electrolytes are compounds that help conduct the electrical impulses that your body needs to send signals through your nervous system to contract muscles, etc.
Common electrolytes include calcium, sodium (salt), potassium, and magnesium. By increasing your electrolytes, you improve your hydration because these electrolytes help your body’s cells balance water.
Natural ways to do this include:
- Drink coconut water.
- Add a pinch of salt to your drink.
- Add honey to your tea.
5 food safety tips
It is estimated that up to 85 percent of food poisoning cases could be prevented with proper food handling, cleaning, washing, and general food safety.
If you want to avoid the unpleasant symptoms of a foodborne illness, cleanliness should be at the top of your list.
1. Keep things clean
Bacteria that cause food poisoning can survive on kitchen surfaces long after food has been put away and can be easily transferred with dirty hands or utensils.
Before preparing food or after handling potentially contaminated food, such as raw meat, wash your hands. For best results, wash your hands for 20 seconds or more.
Don’t forget the food prep surfaces, either. Use hot soapy water and regularly wash your counters, kitchen utensils, knives, cutting boards, and anything else that comes in contact with your food.
2. Keep things separate
Not all foods have the same risks for foodborne illness. Avoid cross-contamination of your food by keeping raw meat away from produce and ready-to-eat foods.
This extends to your refrigerator – leftovers, produce, and other containers should be kept away from trays or containers that hold raw eggs or meat.
Finally, use knives, pans, cutting boards, and other utensils that are reserved for raw meats only.
As a reminder of this rule, some people find it helpful to use red cutting boards for meats and green cutting boards for produce and other foods.
3. Keep things warm
Many of the different bacteria that cause food poisoning die at a certain temperature.
The goal is to cook specific foods to a heating point where the bacteria that are most likely to be contaminated will die. This includes:
- 145 ° F for whole cuts of beef, pork, etc.
- 160 ° F for ground beef.
- 165 ° F for all poultry.
- 165 ° F for leftovers.
- 145 ° F for fish.
4. Keep things cold
Bacteria that can cause food poisoning begin to contaminate and spread through cooked food within two hours.
Refrigeration cools your food to a temperature that is less welcoming to bacteria. Always pack and put away leftovers as soon as you finish eating, and if the food has been sitting on the counter for too long, throw it away.
5. Change your ingredients
Some foods have a much higher risk than other foods for carrying bacteria that can make you sick. Consider reducing or eliminating poultry and red meat. For example, almost all raw poultry has bacteria that could make you sick.
By reducing or eliminating the amount of meat you have in your home, you dramatically reduce your exposure to potential risks.
Don’t say something like, “It’s just a stomach infection.” Pay close attention to your symptoms if you have suspected food poisoning, and make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
You should speak to your doctor immediately if your symptoms progress to a more serious state, including:
A fever of 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher (which can cause other symptoms, such as dizziness or blurred vision).
Signs of dehydration:
- Not being able to urinate a lot.
- Diarrhea that lasts more than three days
- Blood in your diarrhea or stools.
While most cases of food poisoning resolve on their own, some people do require hospitalization and thousands of people die each year.
Don’t take the symptoms lightly. If at any time you are concerned or have questions about what you are experiencing, seek the advice of a medical professional immediately.
Signs of food poisoning. Key points.
- It is caused by many different bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli.
- It can be classified as an infection (you are sick from eating the bacteria in your food) or an intoxication (you are sick from eating the toxins produced by the bacteria in your food).
- Signs and symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, fever, and fatigue.
- Your doctor can diagnose it through an exam and detailed questions about your recent food choices.
- Most cases simply have to run their course, and antibiotics are rarely used as a treatment for food poisoning.
- Some people require hospitalization, but if your doctor says you can recover at home, some poisoning remedies can help relieve symptoms and improve your health as you recover.
6 natural ways to aid recovery from food poisoning
- Stay hydrated with nausea-fighting herbs like ginger or peppermint tea.
- Eat a bland diet that includes smaller meals and no added fat or spices.
- Relax your muscles to relieve cramps and nausea.
- Freshen the air with aromatherapy. Peppermint oil can reduce nausea and rosemary can combat fatigue.
- Increase your electrolyte intake to improve hydration.
- Practice proper food safety to avoid a recurrence of food poisoning. This includes washing hands and kitchen surfaces, avoiding cross-contamination between meats and other foods, cooking meats to the proper temperature, chilling leftovers immediately, and reducing meat consumption.