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How long does food poisoning last?
Foodborne diseases, in general, refer to more than 250 kinds of disease-causing germs. In the majority of people with mild to moderate symptoms of food poisoning (viral and bacterial), symptoms may resolve in about 24 to 48 hours and there is no additional medical treatment needed. But food poisoning can also take more than a few days or even weeks to resolve. Any signs of dehydration or blood to your stool for more than 72 hours should be evaluated medically. Seek medical help if you suspect something unusual about the symptoms you are experiencing.
What are the causes of food poisoning?
The most common causes of food poisoning are undercooking, contamination, and improper handling or storage of food. Another cause is waiting too long to refrigerate leftover food.
Because of the previously mentioned, numerous bacteria, viral or parasitic products can either stay active, salmonella in undercooked poultry is the typical example of this; or enter the food, for example, when someone who has touched raw meat before it has been cooked transfers that bacteria to the cooked meat; and then cause food poisoning.
The following virus and bacterias are the most common causes of food poisoning:
How long does it take for food poisoning to set in?
Foodborne illnesses tend to reproduce in your system where the infection can enter the body into massive loads. If an infection is present it may take 10 to 100 days to spread. Foodborne diseases generally take 4-24 hours to incubate before showing symptoms but sometimes can come within 6 to 16 hours after consumption.
Out of the previously mentioned viruses and bacteria, Vibrio symptoms typically take 1 to 4 days to appear, E. coli 3 to 4 days, and Campylobacter 2 - 5 days. However, Staph symptoms typically appear within 30 minutes to 6 hours, while Listeria symptoms can take 1 to four weeks to appear.
What are the food poisoning symptoms?
Symptoms of food poisoning may vary depending on the source of contamination. But regardless of the type of bacteria or virus, the most common symptoms that manifest are:
Signs and symptoms usually kick in a few hours after eating contaminated food or drinking a contaminated drink, or they may even begin a few days to a few weeks later. When you start experiencing symptoms, being sick usually only lasts from a day to a few days after.
What are the risk factors for food poisoning?
Food poisoning can practically hit anybody at any time and so, no one is safe from it. Not even babies or pregnant women. Because the contaminants can't be seen from the naked eye and contaminated foods can't be easily identified just by looking at them, it is especially difficult. But just how sick you get depends on what kind of contaminant was in your food, how much of it you’re exposed to, your age, and your health. There are specific groups of people that have a greater chance of getting seriously ill from food poisoning:
- Adults 65 years and older: As you grow older, your immune system won't be like what it was. You may have been a fairly healthy young adult but when you age, you become less able to fight off any kind of infection.
- Babies and young children: Because their immune systems aren't fully developed, they can easily catch food poisoning and show serious symptoms.
- Pregnant women: When women are carrying a child, trust that there are a lot of changes happening in their bodies. So when this happens, their bodies won't be able to fight off infections as effectively and the bacteria or virus can make them seriously ill and endanger their unborn child.
- People with long-term illnesses: Comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney and liver disease, HIV, AIDS, or undergoing radio or chemotherapy for cancer can weaken your immune system, so your body will have a hard time fighting off the infection.
How is food poisoning diagnosed?
The doctor usually presents the condition in a report that begins with the recent history of food habits including frequent travels and contact water consumption. Physical testing will focus on abdominal symptoms like dehydration or tenderness. Stool samples can be helpful to detect blood in the stool, microscopically check for parasites as well as to detect some toxins that may be present in your body. In rare cases, some toxicities (for example Shiga toxin) can be immunologically examined with biopsy tests. In mild to moderate cases of viral and most bacterial food poisoning, the tests are most rarely required because of the expense.
What is the best way to treat food poisoning?
Some patients may be prescribed medications to stop nausea or vomiting. Most of the time, antibiotics don't work as these may only either worsen the illness or will not work entirely as antibiotics don't work on viruses and other organisms. Although, many pathogens including parasites can be treated with antiparasitics. The use of medication like loperamide (Imodium) to treat diarrhea is rarely recommended because it may prolong symptoms or cause long-term problems.
How do I prevent food poisoning?
There is no real way of knowing whether the food you're going to eat is with or without a contaminant. But there are steps you can take in order to minimize your chances of acquiring food poisoning:
- Always wash your hands, the utensils you use, and food prep surfaces often. Always make sure to wash your hands well with clean or warm, soapy water before and after food preparation. Use hot, soapy water to wash utensils, cutting boards, and other surfaces you use. Make it a habit to wash your hands for at least 30 seconds to ensure that bacteria are fully eliminated.
- Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. When you're on a grocery run, always keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish away from other foods. This helps prevent cross-contamination.
- Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods right away. When you get home from the grocery, frozen meats and other perishables should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours. If It is hotter than the normal room temperature (above 90 °F or 32.2 °C), refrigerate the food within one hour.
- Defrost food safely. A common misconception is that the proper thawing should be done in open air or in room temperature. The safest way to thaw food is to defrost it in the refrigerator. If you choose to microwave frozen food using the "defrost" option or "50% power" setting, be sure to cook it right away.
- Cook foods at the right temperature. Thermometers are not just for gauging fever, but they can also help you figure out if you're cooking your foods at a safe temperature. This ensures that any type of bacteria or contaminant in the food is killed.
- When in doubt, throw it out. If you are unsure about a food that has been left out at room temperature for too long, regardless if it smells bad or not, discard it. The food may already contain bacteria or toxins that can't be destroyed through cooking.