Food poisoning is usually caused by eating food or drink that is contaminated with bacteria or viruses and can develop within hours or maybe a day after eating the contaminated food. Some food poisoning is caused by poisons from bacteria already in the food. The salmonella or E. coli group of bacteria, which are found mainly in meat, are common causes of food poisoning. The Staphylococcus group of bacteria can cause toxic food poisoning within two to six hours of eating the contaminated food.
One serious problem with food poisoning is dehydration. This is because body fluids are lost and not replaced quickly enough. This is especially serious for the young and old or in hot climates. In serious cases, this has to be treated in hospital.
Signs and symptoms of food poisoning include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cramping abdominal pains
- Diarrhoea which may be possibly bloodstained
- A headache or fever
- Signs of shock
- Impaired consciousness.
Treatment is to encourage the patient to rest and give them plenty of fluids. The use of re-hydration powders mixed with water can also help. You may need to seek medical assistance if needed and sometimes food poisoning will result in hospitalisation.
Finally, if someone has had food poisoning, you also need to ensure that no one else is affected and in some cases, it would need to be reported to the authorities or employers.