Repeated severe vomiting and diarrhea may indicate you have a case of the gastroenteritis (stomach flu), but you could also have food poisoning. Though fatalities are rare, food poisoning can have a severe affect on your body which may require you to visit an emergency room. It's important to know how to spot the signs that your stomach problems are more than just a little upset.
What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is when you eat food which is contaminated by bacteria, a virus, or parasites. It can be caused by poor food handling, such as leaving food out too long, or by a food handler being sick. Certain foods are more likely to be prone to cause food poisoning, especially if they are carelessly handled. Eggs, dairy, under-cooked meat, seafood, and poultry are among those.
How is food poisoning different than gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is caused by an extremely contagious virus which is easily spread from person to person. While you can catch gastroenteritis from food if the handler is sick, you can also catch it from touching things that were touched by a sick person or by close contact. Food poisoning is only directly related to food. With gastroenteritis, the symptoms will usually come on more slowly than food poisoning, about one to three days before the disease shows its full force. In contrast, food poisoning can come on within hours of eating the contaminated food and usually is full force almost from the beginning.
How should food poisoning be treated?
Depending on the severity, some people are able to treat their own food poisoning at home with rest and fluids. You will likely feel weak and have some trouble keeping down food and water at first, but it should improve over time. When you begin eating, try to limit your food intake to bland foods such as rice and bananas. You should visit the emergency room if you find yourself extremely dehydrated, have blood in your stool, have a high fever or have diarrhea and vomiting for more than five days. Your doctor will treat you with fluids and medication to help your body fight off the infection.
If you don't want to end up in the emergency room due to food poisoning, then make sure you or your food handler take precautions. Be especially careful when leaving food out for long periods and always make sure food is prepared with clean hands. Don't accept food from those whom you think are sick. If you aren't sure if your food is safe, then throw it out. If you feel your symptoms are severe, then don't hesitate to seek emergency medical treatment to keep from having long-term complications. To learn more, contact a company like Van Wert County Hospital.
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