One of the most commonly experienced signs of food poisoning is diarrhea. This is brought on by a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection within the intestinal tract. It is important to note however, that not all diarrhea is infectious. People with conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance, immune deficiencies, and others, may experience noninfectious, prolonged diarrhea because of their condition. Nevertheless, the ingestion of contaminated or spoiled food is commonly followed by severe diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting. These symptoms can be important indicators from your body that you are suffering a foodborne illness. If you suspect this, read the following to learn prominent bacteria, viruses, and pathogens linked with food and drink, as well as treatment and preventative measures to avoid their spread.
Some of the most common bacterial infections are Salmonella Enteritidis, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Vibrio, and Shigella. These bacterial agents which inflame the intestines and cause severe diarrhea, are most commonly spread through foods, such as dairy, seafood, or beverages. In terms of viruses, the most common are Rotavirus, Norovirus, and Astroviruses. According to Vincent Iannelli, MD, “Norovirus causes about 50% of foodborne illnesses in the United States. In contrast, Salmonella, which gets a lot more attention, only causes about 23% of cases”. Collectively, these viruses which cause severe diarrhea as well as other flu-like symptoms, are spread through contaminated food, drink, and fecally. Finally, the most prominent Pathogen-caused illnesses are Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica, and Giardia lamblia. These are spread primarily through contaminated waters and cause watery and bloody diarrhea.
Infectious diarrhea can be diagnosed through various stool tests and examinations. For bacterial and viral infections the treatment is generally antibiotics and antiviral medications, while antimicrobial agents are generally used for parasites. Nevertheless, in many cases the body’s impressive immune system can fight off many of these infections itself within one week. Therefore, the most important thing is to remain hydrated and prevent further spread of the illness. This can be done through drinking plenty of fluids and ensuring that you maintain excellent hygiene, whether you are infected or not. The most important practice of preventative hygiene is thorough washing of hands, using hot water and antibacterial soap. When in doubt, wash your hands and you can help prevent the unpleasant and even harmful experience of infectious diarrhea.