Food poisoning is a disease that can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Food poisoning is caused by eating food that contains germs, such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites. One of the most common causes of food poisoning is norovirus. Two examples of bacteria that are general causes of food poisoning are Salmonella and E. coli. Parasites include tiny worms that people can catch in some countries.
Germs can get in food in numerous ways:
- People who are sick can spread their germs to the food they cook if they do not wash their hands before they touch the food.
- Germs can live in or on food. If food is not washed or cooked enough, the germs in it or on it can infect people.
- Germs from one food can get on another food. This can happen when a person uses the same cutting board or knife to prepare different foods.
Symptoms can happen right after a person eats the food, or not until days or weeks later. Common symptoms of food poisoning include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Belly pain
- Diarrhoea that can be watery or bloody
Yes. You can:
- Drink enough liquids so that your body does not get “dehydrated.” Dehydration is when the body loses too much water.
- Eat small meals that do not have a lot of fat in them
- Rest, if you feel tired
See your Gastroenterologist if:
- You have more than six runny bowel movements in 24 hours.
- You have blood in your vomit or bowel movements.
- You have a fever higher than 101.3°F (38.5°C) that does not go away after a day.
- You have severe belly pain.
- You are 70 years of age or older.
- Your body has lost too much water. This is called “dehydration.” Signs include:
- Lots of diarrhoea that is very watery
- Feeling very tired
- Dry mouth or tongue
- Muscle cramps
- Urine that is very yellow, or not needing to urinate for more than five hours
Young children and older adults with symptoms should make sure to see their Gastroenterologist. That’s because these groups can get dehydrated more easily.
Many people do not require having tests. But it’s possible that your Gastroenterologist will do tests to check if you are dehydrated or to figure out which germ caused your food poisoning. Your Gastroenterologist might do:
- Blood tests
- Tests on a sample of your bowel movement
Many people do not need any treatment, because their symptoms will get better on their own. But depending on your situation, your Gastroenterologist might recommend:
- Fluids through an “IV” – An IV is a thin tube that goes into your vein. People with a lot of diarrhoea or vomiting might need IV fluids to treat or prevent dehydration.
- Antibiotics – These medicines treat bacterial infections. But most people do not need antibiotics, even if they have a bacterial infection. If you are very sick with fever and blood in your bowel movements, your Gastroenterologist might prescribe antibiotics to help you get better faster.