Food Poisoning is a mild illness, but if left untreated it may cause death. The most common causes of food poisoning are E. Coli, Salmonellae, Shigella, Clostridium botulinum, Staphylococcus aureus, and Campylobacter jejuni. Food poisoning is caused by improper food handling. Microorganisms invade and colonize foods which are then eaten by people.
When food poisoning is suspected, you need to ask the victim what foods he or she ate in the last 48 hours. Symptoms of food poisoning may take time to manifest except when toxic food poisoning happens. Symptoms of toxic food poisoning happen more quickly than simple food poison. One needs to be alert in identifying possibility of this illness. Signs of food poisoning include strange tasting food or food that is left out in the heat, people having the same symptoms after a certain food was eaten and undercooked or reheated food.
The symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever and body aches. Symptoms of toxic food poisoning include difficulty of breathing and swallowing, dizziness and slurred speech.
First aid for mild food poisoning can be done at home. In treating food poisoning, controlling nausea and vomiting is one of the main goals for first aid. One needs to avoid solid foods until vomiting ends because solid foods may cause aspiration when vomiting occurs.
• Foods to Avoid:
The rule of the BRAT diet which consists of banana, rice, applesauce and toast do not apply when a person is experiencing food poisoning. Also keep in mind that fried, sweet and greasy foods need to be avoided because this will promote nausea to the victim.
• Foods that are Recommended:
Liquid diets such as soups and gelatins are the recommended foods for this illness. Saltine crackers may be eaten in small amounts. To prevent nausea and vomiting, sipping small amount of soda may help. When vomiting ends, solid foods may be introduced gradually.
Do not take any medications without asking your doctor. Usually people buy over-the-counter medications for diarrhea and nausea. While some anti diarrhea and anti nausea medications are effective to control symptoms, some medications will only worsen those symptoms.
Another important goal of first aid is to prevent dehydration. Drinking clear fluids starting with small sips and gradually increasing the amount of fluids will help in preventing dehydration. Do not drink alcoholic, caffeinated or sugary beverages because it will only increase dehydration. If vomiting and diarrhea last more than 24 hours, oral rehydration solution will be needed.
Immediate medical attention is required when the person was poisoned with mushrooms or sea foods. Difficulty of breathing, fever, bloody stools, and severe dehydration also require emergency medical attention. But first if there is difficulty of breathing, one needs to make sure that the victim's airway is not obstructed. You also need to know the signs and symptoms of severe dehydration such as dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, decreased urination, and increased heart and breathing rates. When such emergency happens, call the emergency hotline in your area or a hospital ambulance.