Types of food poisoning: what happens to your stomach after a bad meal?

Water and food products can easily get contaminated with a wide range of toxins and microorganisms that can make people ill. The immuno-compromised individuals, elderly, and very young people are most susceptible to food poisoning caused by contaminated food. Food poisoning has become a global healthcare crisis with varied syndromes that are no longer limited to geographic locations. 

With the ease of transportation and increased travel of food products, consumers are more likely to experience food poisoning and get admitted to an emergency department. Therefore, educating the public, food handlers, and healthcare providers would reduce the spread of other foodborne illness cases in the future (1)

Increased availability of imported and domestic food and changes in lifestyle and food habits have turned foodborne illnesses into more complex health issues. There are specific food handling safety procedures that individuals can follow to avoid food poisoning. However, the real challenge is reducing the risk percentage of the food products from getting contaminated at every step starting from the source until it reaches the table (2)

That being said, here is a handpicked list of common food poisoning viruses that people mostly experience after consuming contaminated food. 

The four most common food poisoning viruses 

Norovirus

The most common food poisoning virus, Norovirus, causes acute gastroenteritis characterized by vomiting, illness, and diarrhea. This virus’s carriers are usually beverages and food, affecting almost 21 million people across the US every year. 

The food poisoning symptoms of Norovirus start to show within two days of being exposed to it. People experience the typical symptoms of stomach cramps, watery diarrhea in adults, vomiting in children, and overall nausea. 

Although this condition can be naturally treated at home by being on a spice-less and simple diet, it can also lead to severe dehydration. If the symptoms last for more than eight weeks, individuals should consult a doctor. 

Salmonella

Salmonellosis, caused by the bacteria Salmonella, is the second-most common foodborne illness affecting 1.2 million US citizens every year. When an individual ingests the bacteria, it passes through the stomach and colonizes in the large and small intestines. After, they proliferate the gastrointestinal tract and spread into the bloodstream. Once the infection reaches the bloodstream, it can infect other body organs such as the meninges, bones, gallbladder, and liver. 

Salmonella is mostly spread through foods of animal origin like eggs, milk, poultry, and beef. However, they can also spread from contact with existing infected individuals and direct animal contact. The first sign of the infection takes almost 12-72 hours to show. 

The condition is characterized by common food poisoning symptoms like occasional vomiting, nausea, fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. In some cases, diarrhea can be blood-tinged. Nevertheless, salmonellosis is self-limited and generally requires no specific treatment. Individuals can take antibiotics in severe cases. 

Clostridium perfringens

Food poisoning caused by Clostridium perfringens bacteria is more severe than it baits the eye. Some strains of this bacteria can cause mild to moderate complications that can be healed without any treatment. However, the bacteria also contain other severe strains that can destroy the small intestine and even lead to death. 

The symptoms show within 6-24 hours after the consumption of contaminated food. There is a wide range of symptoms that individuals can experience, such as sudden fall in blood pressure, dehydration, severe diarrhea, abdominal expansion from gas, and abdominal pain. The treatment usually includes taking rest and consuming fluids. 

Campylobacter

Campylobacter causes an infection called campylobacteriosis that is spread from contaminated water and food. The bacteria gets into the system when individuals eat undercooked food and poultry or touch undercooked or raw poultry. 

The symptoms can stay for up to a week. These include fever, bloating, belly cramps, vomiting, nausea, and bloody diarrhea. It is also associated with other health complications such as arthritis and gallbladder infection. However, in a few cases, people did not show any symptoms. The diagnosis of this disease is usually made through the lab test of stool samples. 

The best way to avoid this type of food poisoning is by ensuring that all poultry foods are adequately cooked. Washing hands while handling the food and before eating also helps immensely. 

Measures for maintaining food hygiene

Maintaining food hygiene is the only way through which you can avoid being diagnosed with food poisoning. There are some effortless steps that you can follow to protect yourself as well as your loved ones from any foodborne illness. 

Step 1

Wash your hands while handling food items and other cooking utensils. You should also wash raw meat, vegetables, and fruits thoroughly before cooking them. 

Step 2

Use different utensils when you are handling eggs, seafood, poultry, and raw meat. Even when you are storing them before or after cooking, separate them from other food items. 

Step 3

Cooking food at the right temperature is necessary for killing any germ that might live inside it. Use a food thermometer to check the food’s temperature that you are cooking. The right temperature for cooking poultry and seafood products usually ranges from 145-160o F. 

Step 4

Refrigerate the food and do not leave them open on countertops. The ideal temperature for the refrigerator should be around 40o F.

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