The Fast And Furious Of Food Poisoning
January 9, 2014

The Fast And Furious Of Food Poisoning

Recently, I experienced a bout of food poisoning. Only one other time in my life has this happened, and let me say that food poisoning is awful. Amidst tears, pain, and vomiting, I thought only death would be worse than food poisoning. After about a week, I still feel that way. It just sucks. The only good thing about food poisoning is once the bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins make their way through your system, all symptoms end. You might feel a bit weak from possible dehydration and not eating as well as just the general rigors of the illness, but these quickly go away once you eat and drink plenty of water or rehydration drinks otherwise.

Having this experience got me thinking about sharing a little bit of information with redOrbit readers on what food poisoning is, how to recognize it, and what to do if we have it.

What is food poisoning? According to Medline Plus of the National Institutes of Health, “Food poisoning occurs when you swallow food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins made by these germs. Most cases are caused by common bacteria such as Staphylococcus or E. coli.” Basically, this means our food was somehow tainted in one way or another. When we eat this bad food, our bodies move into protection mode, which means that our bodies seek to rid our systems of the contaminated food.

If we get food poisoning, we should know pretty quickly in most cases, although it takes longer for campylobacter and Giardiasis. WebMD explains that food poisoning “can start as early as one hour in the case of staph and as late as 10 days in the case of campylobacter. It may take even longer to develop symptoms from parasite infections such as Giardia. Symptoms can last from one day up to a couple of months or longer, depending on the type of infection.”

And just how do we recognize food poisoning? Well, people experience several symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Headache

Alone, these symptoms are no fun but put together they make one pray for death. The cramping does not stop. The temperature changes are nearly instantaneous, and the headache is blinding. Oh, and don’t get me started on the vomiting.

So, what do we do if we have it? What are the treatments?

redOrbit tells us that, “For most people, food poisoning resolves quickly without treatment. For people with mild diarrhea lasting less than 24 hours, treatment should consist of drinking clear fluids such as oral replacement solutions. These solutions contain the right balance of water, salts, and sugar needed to prevent or treat mild dehydration. A solution can be made by mixing 1 teaspoonful of salt and 4 heaping teaspoonfuls of sugar with 1 liter of water.

It may be best to stay away from solid food during diarrhea and vomiting. Once you are able to take fluids, gradually start eating plain foods as tolerated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine while you are sick. People with severe symptoms or severe dehydration may need to be admitted to the hospital so they can receive rehydration solutions intravenously (into a vein).”

Obviously, if symptoms do not lessen, then we need to contact our doctor or a medical professional otherwise because our case may be more complicated than the average case of food poisoning.

Luckily for me, I just had the average, everyday kind of food poisoning complete with all the symptoms. For 12 hours, I thought I was going to die, but I made it through. If you find yourself with a case of food poisoning, know that it should be a pretty quick illness albeit intense. That does not make the pain, chills, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea any easier, but it does give a modicum of solace.

I wrote in a holiday health blog about safe eating during the holidays in order to avoid food poisoning. That blog explains the four rules to safe eating:

  • Clean your foods, yourself, and your cooking/baking surfaces.
  • Separate foods appropriately so that possible contaminants do not infect other foods.
  • Cook food thoroughly and properly.
  • Chill and store your foods correctly in order to avoid contamination.

May you never experience food poisoning, but if you do, I hope this article helps.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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