Food Poisoning

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Food poisoning facts

  • Food poisoning is a common infection that affects millions of people in the United States each year.
  • Most commonly, patients complain of vomiting, diarrhea, and crampy abdominal pain.
  • People should seek medical care if they have an associated fever, blood in their stool, signs and symptoms of dehydration, or if their symptoms do not resolve after a couple of days.
  • Treatment focuses on keeping the affected individual well hydrated.
  • Most cases of food poisoning resolve on their own.
  • Prevention is key and depends upon keeping food preparation areas clean,proper hand washing, and cooking foods thoroughly.

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning might be described as a food borne disease. Food that contains a toxin, chemical or infectious agent (like a bacterium, virus, parasite, or prion) and cause symptoms in the body are considered types of food poisoning by most health care professional. Those symptoms may be related only to the gastrointestinal tract causing vomiting or diarrhea or may involve other organs such as the kidney, brain, or muscle.

Typically most food borne diseases cause vomiting and diarrhea that tend to be short lived and resolve on their own, but dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities may develop. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year approximately 48 million people become ill from food related diseases each year resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths.

According to the CDC, in 2011, the most common foodborne illnesses in the United States each year are caused by Norovirus, and the bacteria Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, and Salmonella.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/3/2013

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Food Poisoning - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your food poisoning?
Food Poisoning - Treatment Question: What was your treatment, including medication, for food poisoning?
Food Poisoning - Causes Question: Do you know what caused your food poisoning?
Food Poisoning - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with food poisoning.
Food Poisoning - Home Remedies Question: Please provide home remedies you've used to treat symptoms related to food poisoning.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

What Are Symptoms of Food Poisoning?

Viewer Question: Is it necessary to conduct a culture of feces or vomit in order to determine that a patient suffers from food poisoning?

Doctor's Response: Food poisoning is a general term that refers to gastrointestinal illnesses (usually diarrhea and/or vomiting) caused by food that is contaminated with:

  • parasites,
  • viruses, or
  • toxic substances.

The diagnosis of food poisoning usually is made only presumptively, based on the affected individual's symptoms and the circumstances. Even in outbreaks of suspected food poisoning that involve many people, when careful studies are done, a specific cause is found no more than half of the time.

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