Food Poisoning, How to Prevent and Manage It

Food Poisoning, How to Prevent and Manage It

Food poisoning, also known as acute gastroenteritis, is an illness caused by eating contaminated or poorly prepared food.


The contamination may be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins.  It is an acute inflammation of the lining of the stomach and small bowel.


Viruses may also produce a similar condition known as virus enteritis. Some people are allergic to certain items of food which though wholesome to others, may act as poisons to them.


Different individuals may react poorly to various types of drugs, cathartics, and chemicals used as preservatives to certain foods. Shellfish poisoning is common in certain parts of the world.


food poisoning

cooking should be done under strict hygiene condition


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Causes of Food Poisoning


  • Eating certain fruits and vegetables without properly washing them may lead to food poisoning e.g cucumber, cabbage, mango, and watermelon, etc.


  • Foods eaten raw are common sources of food poisoning.


  • Poorly roasted meat, barbecue, animal meat slaughtered in a dirty, poor hygienic environment can cause food poisoning.


  • Poor handling of food items when cooking can cause contamination and food poisoning.


  • Food poisoning can be gotten from unpasteurized milk and milk products.


  • Indiscriminate use of chemicals to store certain grains e.g maize, cowpea by some dubious farmers and businessmen, may result in food poisoning.


  • By eating raw or poorly cooked eggs or foods that may contain them, such as egg roll, cookie dough, etc.


  • Foods served at picnics, in restaurants, and at home are easily contaminated by toxins. Which are also the common cause of food poisoning.


  • Poisonous substances, produced by staphylococcus germs.


  • Foods most often involved are various meats, fish, pastes, custards, cream-filled pastry, milk, and many different kinds of deserts.


  • Severe poisoning may be caused by different types of fish, most of which are well known in the various localities where they are found.


  • Trouble may arise from skin infections on the hands of those who handle food, or perhaps by coughing and sneezing.


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Symptoms of Food Poisoning

  • Food poisoning usually begins suddenly with a feeling of nausea and abdominal cramps.


  • This may be followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and general body weakness.


  • Mild fever.



  • Rectal burning may be intense.


  • Presence of blood and mucus in the stools.


  • The loss of fluid from the bowel may result in severe dehydration and shock.


  • The condition known as acidosis may develop.


  • There is pain in the abdomen, with some distension, especially in the lower areas.


  • In serious outbreaks of food poisoning, all or most members of the family may be involved, and quite a number of persons are usually involved, all of whom have eaten the same food at the same time.



Be selective in your choice of restaurants you choose to eat food due to health concerns


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Prevention of Food Poisoning

  • Except absolutely necessary you should avoid eating in restaurants you can’t trust because of safety concerns.


  • When cooking at home wash your hands well with warm, soapy water before and after handling or cooking food.


  • Avoid cross-contamination when shopping and storing your foods, foods that are easily perishable such as meat, fish, and poultry products should be kept and packaged separately when shopping.


  • Such foods should be well refrigerated.


  • Fruits and vegetables that can be eaten raw, should be properly washed before eaten.


  • Any food cooked and kept for too long without covering it properly even when it smells good should be discarded especially when you are in doubt.


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Those at more risk of food poisoning include the following:
  • Senior citizens (the elderly) also face a greater risk of contracting food poisoning which is caused by weakened immune systems.


  • Pregnant women are more at risk because their bodies are coping with changes to their metabolism and circulatory system during pregnancy.


  • Children are also at a greater risk because their immune system is not fully develop compared to that of adults. Young children are more easily affected by dehydration from vomiting. And diarrhea as a result of food poisoning.


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How to Manage and Treat Food Poisoning
  •  Keep the patient in bed and give nothing by mouth as long as nausea and vomiting persist. He may go to the bathroom or use a bedpan.


  • As the vomiting subsides, give sips of some warm drink, such as tea barley, or rice water. Strained broth oatmeal, chicken broth, blend potatoes, toast, diluted fruit juices, and sports drinks high in electrolytes will help in stabilizing the system.


  • Food poisoning can usually be treated at home, and most cases will resolve within three to five days.


  • Serious dehydration can be fatal, this may likely occur when infants, senior citizens with poorly develop or suppressed immune systems, and other individuals with chronic illnesses are involved.


  • If the vomiting is severe and persistent, transfer the patient to the hospital where he can receive intravenous therapy. For severe food poisoning, always call the family doctor.

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