Food Poisoning and the Summer Heat – How to Safeguard Your Family and Friends
Food poisoning illnesses are already pesky enough in the cold weather, but what happens when the bacteria these illnesses carry are exposed to warmer temperatures? Well, since bacteria tends to thrive in warmer, more humid climates, food poisoning illnesses tend to become more common during the summer time. This also means that it is important for consumers to clean and store their products properly in order to prevent contamination. Rules like “always washing your hands,” or “rinsing off your fruits and vegetables before consumption,” become that much more vital to a person’s safety and health.
Although this is true, it is also important to realize that some cases of food poisoning illness are simply unavoidable. Even if you follow all the health rules, sometimes that slippery bacteria still manages to make it through the cracks. That is ok. There is no need to panic, as most cases of foodborne illnesses are relatively short-lived and most aren’t life-threatening. But even so, it is still important to be able to identify the different symptoms and signs so that if you do become ill, you can contact your health provider and get tested before things get out of hand.
Some symptoms, according to NDTV, include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, fatigue, dehydration, dizziness and fainting, muscle aches, and headaches. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and are sometimes (although it is rare) life-threatening. Those who are very young, older than sixty, pregnant, or immunocompromised are especially at risk.
Most food poisonings cases will resolve on their own, but when dehydration sets in, or the food poisoning leads to an elevated temperature, medical intervention is recommended. Dehydration can lead to kidney, heart, and other serious side-effects.
Now, what really is food poisoning?
Food poisoning is essentially an infection caused by consuming contaminated food. It can stem from bacteria, parasites, fungi, viruses, or even “toxic substances found in the food,” says NDTV. Some of the most common bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses and subsequent outbreaks are E.coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. Although a majority of bacterial food poisoning outbreaks stem from the aforementioned bacteria, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other causes. In fact, the number one cause of food poisoning is a virus, know as Norovirus, but often just called the stomach bug or 24-hour flu.
Another question, when should you go to the doctor?
As noted above, since most foodborne illnesses resolve themselves on their own, it usually isn’t “necessary” to go to the doctor for treatment. That said, there are treatments that will make it a lot easier to endure the nightmare that is food poisoning. Ondansetron, for example (otherwise known as Zofran) can be given orally or by IV fluids, and works greatly to reduce the discomfort of food poisoning. There are also a few signs that tell you a trip to the ER may be worth your time. Some, according to the CDC, are:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days
- High fever (temperature over 102 F)
- Vomiting to the point where you are unable to keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration (feel dizzy when standing up, dry throat and mouth, not urinating often enough)
Hopefully you will become ill, and even then not need to seek medical attention. But since one-in-six Americans get food poisoning each year, chances are you will be put into the position to need to decide what to do. One tip, from a national food poisoning lawyer, is this: “Seeking medical attention is a sound decision, and one we recommend. By getting tested you may also help the health department track food poisoning and you make it easier to being a claim for medical treatment and other losses should you choose to down the road.”