Food Poisoning

(Foodborne Disease; Foodborne Infection)

Definition

Food poisoning is a disease that is carried or transmitted to humans by contaminated foods or beverages.
Gastrointestinal System
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Causes

Food poisoning is caused by substances in foods or beverages, including:
  • Bacteria
  • Poisons produced by bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Amoeba or parasites
  • Chemicals

Risk Factors

Infants and the elderly are at increased risk for food poisoning. Other factors that increase your chances of getting food poisoning include:
  • Poor hygiene
  • Poor refrigeration
  • Lack of knowledge of safe food preparation
  • Weakened immune system, including during pregnancy

Symptoms

After you consume the contaminated food or beverage, there is a delay before symptoms arise. This delay is called an incubation period. It can last hours or weeks. Symptoms include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Dehydration —if vomiting or diarrhea is severe
  • Neurologic symptoms, including headache, lightheadedness, visual disturbances, and seizures
  • Poor urine output
  • Cramps
  • Bloody stools, bloody vomit
  • Fever, chills
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Weakness

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you have some of the food that you think made you sick, you may be asked to bring it in to be tested.Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Stool tests
  • Vomit tests

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