Overview of Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is a condition that is induced by the consumption of spoilt or contaminated food. The symptoms vary depending on the cause and the amount of food that is consumed. There are many potential causative agents such as harmful microbes and even toxic chemicals which are formed when the food breaks down.
The term “Food Poisoning” is a misnomer as most of the infections are caused by pathogens such as bacteria and viruses rather than natural or artificial toxins. Some are caused by unnatural reactions to food, especially an allergy. The effects of food poisoning are acute, usually lasting for about 3 days to a week.
Food Poisoning Causes
Food poisoning is caused due to the following reasons:
Food poisoning is largely caused by bacteria. Salmonella, E.coli and Listeria are by far the most dangerous bacteria that cause food poisoning. Campylobacter and Clostridium botulinum are lethal bacteria that spoil canned food.
Food poisoning is also caused by viruses. Norovirus, rotavirus, sapovirus, astrovirus cause several cases of food poisoning every year. Hepatitis A is a serious condition that can be transmitted through food.
Pathogens are found in all the food items that humans eat. When you heat the food, most of the pathogens are killed. Raw food is a major cause of food poisoning. Dairy products, meat and eggs are even more contaminated.
Food Poisoning Symptoms
The major food poisoning symptoms include:
- Abdominal Pain and Cramps: In case of food poisoning, the harmful microorganisms produce toxic substances that cause inflammation in the intestinal and stomach lining. This results in pains and cramps in the stomach.
- Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea is a major symptom of food poisoning. It is characterized by a frequent watery, loose bowel movement. This happens because the inflammation does not allow the bowel to reabsorb water and other fluids secreted during digestion.
- Headache: Food poisoning causes fatigue and dehydration. This results in a headache. The brain shrinks temporarily due to loss of water, which causes a headache.
- Vomiting: This is one of the major symptoms of food poisoning. This happens because the body tries to remove the toxins. Thus, it brings up the contents of the stomach and forces it out of the mouth.
- Fever and Chills: Pyrogens, which are the fever producing substances, increase the temperature of the body. The body shivers to raise the temperature, which causes chills.
These were the major symptoms of food poisoning.
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