Food poisoning: symptoms and duration

Food poisoning: symptoms and duration

The sun is shining; the first ice cream tastes like more – hours later. Unfortunately, there is stomach pain and diarrhoea. Do you know that? Bacterial contamination often triggers nausea, Vomiting and diarrhoea, but food can also contain other toxins. What are the symptoms of food poisoning, how is it treated, and what can be done to prevent it?

Food poisoning or gastrointestinal infection?

The difference between foodborne and gastrointestinal infections is that pathogens are always involved – mostly viruses, rarely bacteria or parasites. However, the symptoms are the same and in most cases, because they are the most common, the treatment does not differ either.

In the case of food poisoning caused by bacteria, their toxins cause the disease, while in the case of foodborne illness, the bacterium itself causes the disease. The distinction appears academic but is essential for some pathogens about therapy.

Food poisoning is also known as food poisoning. More common bacteria that can cause food poisoning include salmonella and campylobacter.


Food poisoning: symptoms

When food poisoning occurs as a result of bacterial contamination, the symptoms are as follows:

  • sudden, crampy abdominal pain
  • malaise
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • Diarrhea
  • rarely fever

Diarrhoea and Vomiting help the body rid itself of contaminated food. Therefore, do not suppress the urge to vomit, but give in to it.

duration of food poisoning

Usually, the symptoms of food poisoning get better on their own within a few hours to a maximum of a few days. Make sure you are drinking enough during this time. The main problem with Vomiting and diarrhoea is the increasing loss of fluids, which the body finds difficult to compensate for.

If circulatory problems occur, this is a sign that the home remedies are insufficient to keep your fluid balance in balance. This can also be dangerous, especially for people with weakened or older immune systems.


Food poisoning in pregnancy

Pregnant women should also seek medical advice if they have symptoms of food poisoning. In addition to the general stress on the organism, bacteria of the genus Listeria can be behind the symptoms in rare cases.

They are mainly found in raw foods like milk, cheese or minced meat. In the worst case, an infection with Listeria can be passed on to the unborn child and cause a miscarriage.

In addition to nausea, flu-like symptoms are common with Listeria infection during pregnancy. These include fever and muscle and joint pain. A doctor should immediately clarify if there is a suspicion of a disease with Listeria.

Food poisoning: what to do?

The body uses Vomiting and diarrhoea in food poisoning to get rid of the causative agents. So, do not try to suppress these symptoms with medication.

Drinking regularly is all the more important to compensate for losing fluids. It is best to keep drinking small amounts of fennel, ginger or chamomile tea. In this way, the urge to vomit can be avoided.

Food poisoning can be contagious depending on the pathogen. Therefore, the use of the toilet should be regulated. Let sick family members use a different toilet. Disinfect them after each visit to the bathroom and pay attention to careful hygiene. Also, wash used towels at high temperatures. In this way, the transmission of germs and their toxins to family members who are still healthy can be prevented.

Otherwise, you should take it easy and avoid physical exertion until the symptoms improve. However, seek medical advice if the symptoms persist or are very severe.

Medical treatment for food poisoning

Food poisoning is usually diagnosed by talking to the person affected. The exact description of the symptoms and the report on the possible connection with a particular food can help clarify.

Blood and stool samples can be examined for pathogens in the laboratory for a more precise diagnosis. These can also be checked if parts of the suspicious meal are still present. In practice, however, this is rarely used.

The treatment is then drug-based, depending on the trigger. Electrolyte solutions can be administered in the event of severe fluid loss.


How Does Food Poisoning Happen?

The causes of food poisoning can be very different. Different foods like ice cream, eggs, or fish can contain germs, toxins, or contaminants. In the following, we present possible triggers of food poisoning.

Ice cream, sausage & Co. – bacterial contamination of food

Especially in the warm season, germs such as salmonella, more rarely staphylococci or enterococci, multiply quickly – especially if food has not been stored properly (uncooled) or has been prepared carelessly ( forgot to wash your hands ).

The following are particularly affected:

  • ice cream
  • Dairy products
  • raw eggs (typically also mayonnaise )
  • Wurst
  • meat (especially ground beef)
  • poultry
  • Fish
  • seafood

When you eat the affected food, you also eat whole “legions” of bacteria and their metabolic products, so-called toxins, which are toxic to humans – nausea, Vomiting and diarrhoea are the consequences.

A life-threatening case is the highly toxic botulinum toxins, which are neurotoxins formed by clostridial bacteria in spoiled canned goods. They can start in particular with foods rich in protein, such as sausage or canned meat.

They paralyze the body and respiratory muscles and can lead to shortness of breath. Double vision occurs early because the eye muscles are also affected.

Poisons from plants and fungi

Of the around 10,000 known types of mushrooms, there are about 1,000 edible and 500 poisonous ones – this makes mushroom hunting difficult and sometimes life-threatening, especially for the inexperienced. Mushroom toxins not only attack the gastrointestinal system but can also lead to hallucinations, liver damage, circulatory failure and death.

Plant toxins such as solanine  (from raw potatoes or green tomatoes ) or atropine (from deadly nightshade) show similar symptoms: Paralysis often occurs here.


Food poisoning from fish and shellfish

Saxitoxin is produced by certain algae that can feed and accumulate in mussels. Eating mussels that have absorbed these algae, depending on the amount of poison, nausea, Vomiting, diarrhoea, and more significant amounts, can lead to paralysis and even shortness of breath. Eating haddock can also lead to saxitoxin poisoning.

Tetrodotoxin is the well-known nerve toxin of the puffer fish, of which even the most minor amounts cause respiratory paralysis.

chemical contaminants

For example, antimony, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and zinc are found in some glazes on dishes or in glass, and acidic foods can attack them. These components are also found in pesticides and wood preservatives. These toxins irritate the skin and mucous membranes, are stored in body tissues and damage the human organism in many ways.

How to prevent food poisoning

Of course, it’s best if poisoning doesn’t occur in the first place. A few basic rules should be self-evident when preparing food. Here’s what you can do to prevent food poisoning and what you can do if you do get food poisoning.


kitchen hygiene

Hygiene is essential in the kitchen: you should wash your hands before working. Also, wash your hands before eating, after using the toilet and after every contact with animals.

For dishes that contain raw eggs (e.g. mayonnaise, tiramisu, egg dishes), pay particular attention to the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Always cook minced meat thoroughly, rinse thawed poultry carefully, and pat it dry afterwards. Fruit and vegetables should also always be washed thoroughly before preparation.

It is also important to always clean the kitchen appliances you use thoroughly. And: If you have used a knife to cut raw meat, clean it first or use a new knife before using it to chop other ingredients, such as vegetables. The same applies to the underlay used.

Use of unknown or rare ingredients

Do you rarely cook with mushrooms, plant ingredients, mussels or exotic fish? Ask a specialist store for advice on the quality of the goods and trust your gut feeling: as soon as something looks or smells strange or spoiled, it has no place in your cooking pot. Unknown items from the forest and garden, whose origins are uncertain, can become life-threatening food!

The right equipment in the kitchen

Use pots, pans, and crockery from well-known manufacturers who have ensured they comply with the Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection and Food Safety regulations regarding their ingredients.


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