What’s the connection between food poisoning and the holidays? If you’re unfamiliar, you’ve had a lot of good fortune. There was plenty to eat, prepared hours ahead of time, left out? Leftovers not stored properly in the refrigerator? Bacteria paradise.
When the flame goes out, and with no food or unpredictable refrigeration, the same thing might happen during a catastrophe. No, not the one where the turkey burns or where you leave Uncle Joe and Cousin Willie in the same room for too long. I’m talking about that kind of blackout when the electricity goes out.
Food Poisoning: How to Get Rid of It Quickly
When it comes to food poisoning, the first treatment is generally intended at one goal: preventing dehydration.
In most situations, there isn’t much you can do to reduce the diarrhea or vomiting. Antidiarrhea medicines and antibiotics, in fact, sometimes prolong the symptoms. And, because many cases of food poisoning last between 24 and 48 hours, patience will usually be the ultimate cure.
So, if you have a case of the runs and heaves, here are some ideas:
- When it begins, do nothing. I’ve seen many individuals try to eat and drink right away, and all they accomplish is produce more vomiting and diarrhea. That, in my opinion, makes things worse by the time you throw out what you ate along with any toxins that might have been absorbed into your body, you also lose more fluids and electrolytes than you would otherwise.
- After an hour, drink some water or eat a chip of ice. Gulping will cause the fluids to return more quickly.
- Rest. You have a bacterial infection or have been poisoned by bacteria toxin. Allow your body to use its various defenses against the illness, rather than having to worry about conserving energy for non-essential chores.
- When you can manage to take only sips, increase the amount of liquids you drink. Water is wonderful. Pedialyte is also excellent. Alternatively, you may create your own rehydration solution (as seen here in the sidebar). Broth or tea will suffice. Sports drinks might contain too much sugar for your stomach to handle and exacerbate the problem, so dilute them with half water before consumption.
- Don’t start solid food for at least the first 24 hours. If you feel hungry within those 24 hours, try a BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast. No butter is used. I’d also avoid dairy products for a few days to a few weeks in order to alleviate any lactose intolerance symptoms. Some people who are ordinarily healthy can suddenly become lactose intolerant for a period of time.
Some Reasons to Seek Medical Attention
Those who are elderly or very young (babies), have chronic medical issues like heart disease or diabetes, or suffer from any other condition that makes them prone to dehydration should immediately visit a physician for food poisoning because they can rapidly dehydrate before anybody recognizes it. Signs symptoms that other people should look for include:
Food poisoning can occur for a variety of reasons. In my last article, I wrote about salmonella. Staph is another common cause.
Staph is fascinating since it isn’t the bacteria themselves that cause symptoms. Rather, the germs create a toxin that leads to what’s known as a “poisoning.”
Botulism bacteria, the most serious foodborne illness that home canners dread, do the same. That poison is much more powerful, but it can be destroyed with a thorough boiling for 15 minutes according to your altitude. (Note: Boiling does not destroy the spores; as a result, if you don’t eat the food right away, additional toxin may accumulate.) Most other causes of food poisoning may also be eliminated at temperatures of 170°F and above.
The staph toxin is not destroyed by heat. So, for example, if you leave raw food or leftovers on the counter for more than a few hours, bacteria such as staph will thrive. You then cook it or reheat it. Bacteria may be killed if the food is reheated sufficiently, but the toxin is not.
Staph’s Usual Suspects
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staph infections are most common in improperly refrigerated or unrefrigerated meats, potato salads, cream pastries, and egg dishes.
Staph food poisoning symptoms include severe vomiting and stomach cramps that strike 30 minutes to six hours after eating. (Symptoms caused by Clostridium perfringens, the bacterial cause of a large proportion of food poisoning cases, can also appear soon after, but this bacteria does not produce any toxin and can be destroyed with proper cooking or reheating to an internal temperature of 165 F.) The staph-induced symptoms go away in approximately one to three days.
Is It Contagious?
No. Foodborne staph is not transmitted from person to person as was MRSA, although it may be spread through contaminated food or water.
- Why not? We just visited three places in 15 minutes. You can eat anywhere, anytime, and everything is delicious! But there are cases when this isn’t the case at all. A food poisoning caused by eating fish (including sushi) is one of these rare occurrences. Vomit that’s continuous and not stopping after a few hours might indicate serious dehydration, indicating that this isn’t your typical food poisoning. In fact, cholera (which is uncommon in the United States) has been known to cause such excessive fluid loss that some people die within hours as a result of it.
- Bloody diarrhea. It’s not always a negative sign. Some typical diarrhea infections can cause this. But without professional testing, it’s difficult to determine the source of the problem.
- Fever over 101 F orally, which may mean, again, this is not your common food poisoning.
- Abdominal cramps that never stop. Food poisoning, or something else entirely, could be the underlying problem in this instance.
- Symptoms haven’t gone after approximately a day. Food poisoning can persist for longer in certain instances, but you’re most likely dehydrated and lost a lot of electrolytes after a day or two, therefore it’s time to test and increase treatment.
- Confusion or looking particularly ill, which can be from dehydration or a really bad infection.
- Dehydration is a condition in which the body loses too much fluid, causing your kidneys to fail, your heart and other vital organs to suffer. It may eventually cause death if not treated. Feeling faint after sitting up or standing up ( undertaking the latter slowly and cautiously), having decreased urination or an extremely dry mouth are all signs of dehydration.
What Experts Can Do That You Cannot
- To evaluate your kidney function and electrolytes, get blood work.
- Give IV fluids.
- If you find yourself confronted with gingivitis, do not panic. Rather than rushing off to the doctor’s office and not knowing what is causing it in the first place, make an effort to figure out why it happened. If your dentist determines that you have gingivitis and can’t identify its source, request a second opinion from another dental expert or a different approach to treating your problem.
- Suppress the vomiting. If you’re having difficulty at both ends, you may be able to obtain something only in injectable form. There is, however, one antidote for vomit that you can keep beneath your tongue (ondansetron).
The bottom line is that food should never be left out for more than two hours. Even so, you must trust in the way the food was kept before buying it.
What about you? Have you or someone you know ever gotten sick from food poisoning before? What do you think caused it? What did you do in order to get better as quickly as possible?
Photo by Sora Shimazaki/Pexels