Whether an infant or someone on their death bed, all those who fall in between are capable of having food poisoning and a question we all ask ourselves when suffering from it is how long does food poisoning last ?
To evaluate how long food poisoning lasts , we must know what food poisoning is and how is it different from stomach flu. When your stomach feels uneasy and you feel you have to use the restroom frequently we must not avoid that as that could be food poisoning. As scary as the name suggests, this is something that everyone has to face when eating out or otherwise. Foodborne illness or commonly known as food poisoning is an illness caused by mainly eating contaminated food and beverages. The infection is carried through bacteria, parasites and viruses along with other basic toxins which we are not even aware of the damage they cause. The contamination of food or beverage is possible at any stage, could be during the preparation or when it is being served or as far behind as when the produce was grown. There are several different kinds of food poisonings and each varying in intensity and what causes it. Usually the signs of food poisoning start showing within the very few hours of consuming the contaminated food and our body acting out in the form of diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.
How long does food poisoning last , the types of food poisoning?
To determine the causes of food poisoning and how long does food poisoning last we must understand that the contamination of food can be done at any point of the process; this takes place mostly in raw food like salads, ready to eats which have a lot of preservatives present in them. Different bacteria’s cause different types of food poisoning, a few have been mentioned below to help people watch out:
Campylobacter- transmitted through meat and poultry.
Clostridium botulinum- transmitted through home-canned foods.
Clostridium perfringens- transmitted through meat, stews and gravies
Escherichia coli-transmitted through beef, contaminated through feces during slaughter.
Giardia lamblia- transmitted through raw, ready to eat produce and contaminated water.
Hepatitis A- transmitted through raw, ready to eat produce and contaminated water.
Listeria- transmitted through luncheon meats, hot dogs, cheeses and unpasteurized milk, and unwashed raw produce.
Noroviruses- transmitted through raw, shellfish from contaminated water and ready-to-eat produce.
Rotavirus- transmitted through raw, ready-to-eat produce.
Salmonella- transmitted through raw or contaminated meat, poultry, milk or egg yolks.
Shigella- transmitted through seafood and raw, ready-to-eat produce.
Staphylococcus aureus- transmitted through meats and prepared salads, cream sauces, and cream-filled pastries.
Vibrio vulnificus- transmitted through raw oysters and raw or undercooked mussels, clams, and whole scallops.
The foods mentioned have been found to be a source of food poisoning, however it is not determined unsafe for human consumption or considered unhealthy.There are certain foods that are commonly associated with food poisoning which include eggs, meats, poultry, cheese, milk, vegetables, fruits, spices and nuts. As you might have seen that there is nearly everything included in the foods causing food poisoning, it is true that nearly all foods can result in food poisoning if proper health safe foods aren’t consumed. Again, these foods aren’t unhealthy but if gets contaminated with bacteria, they can result into food poisoning.
How long does food poisoning last , the basic symptoms?
The question that has all of us reading this is, how long does food poisoning last ? Everyone has their own dreadful food poisoning story to tell but the food poisoning itself does not last for more than 1-2 days and usually resolves on its own. If the food contained staph then the signs of food poisoning will start to show in the very beginning which is usually after an hour or two of consuming the food. If the food poisoning arose because of campylobacter then the signs will not be visible for a couple of days ranging from a week to 10 days, however when dealing with a parasite it takes much longer than the problem to show. Nonetheless we have found that Ciguatera and scombroid poisoning have proven to be rarely fatal. Due to the range in days it becomes difficult to pin point what was the root cause of the food poisoning. So to answer the question how long does food poisoning last in simpler words it would vary from a day or two till a few months depending on the severity of the infection.
The basic symptoms of food poisoning range from mild which can be left alone to heal on its own or become really severe and need medical attention. The signs to look out for are nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. The symptoms vary from person to person and so some may feel severe stomach cramps, loss of appetite, aching muscles and lack of energy. Sudden fever and chills have also been reported on numerous occasions however we must be able to differentiate between food poisoning and stomach flu to estimate how long does food poisoning last .
How long does food poisoning last , stomach flu or food poisoning?
To differentiate between food poisoning and stomach flu, we must at first notice if there is any abdominal pain; this is so because stomach flus give mild pain in the abdominal area whereas food poisoning causes sharp pains. Flu usually grows on a person over a few days whereas food poisoning can happen at any time in a sudden manner. Diarrhea and vomiting is severe as compared to stomach flu as our body is designed to get rid of anything that disrupts the basic functioning and tries to get rid of it as soon as possible. Another very common way to identify is to check if the people around you are falling ill at the same then that is good poisoning rather than it fading off one person and the other one catches it like stomach flu.
So coming back to our question how long does food poisoning last , hold great importance as the stronger viruses and illness tend to stay longer than the milder ones which usually last 24 hours.
How long does food poisoning last , how to treat it?
To answer our root question, how long does food poisoning last we must take up the following steps to treat food poisoning which will determine how long it will take.
REST- our body feels woozy and we feel the urge to vomit, the best thing to do at this point would be to give our body and stomach a rest. We should avoid any of the mentioned products; caffeine, dairy produce, spicy food, nicotine or anything that contains alcohol. However it is advised not to skip meals as our body is already very weak thus we should opt for bland foods for a few days.
REPLACEMENT OF LOST FLUIDS- the person suffering from food poisoning will have severe diarrhea which results in a loss of fluids from the body which can cause dehydration which can be fatal. The body loses electrolysis and fluids at a very fast rate so it is advised to consume healthy energy drinks similar to Pedialyte and Gatorade to fulfill the bodily fluids. Depending on the severity, the person suffering from food poisoning might have to resort to IV fluids in the hospital to avoid getting dehydrated.
ANTIBIOTICS-yet again depending on the severity and how the body is reacting, doctors prescribe antibiotics to help the body combat the illness. For example, listeria poisoning has been reported to act well with antibiotics, for the milder food poisoning antibiotics are not prescribed.
If you are trying to control food poisoning on your own at home then keep in mind the following things:
CONTROL VOMITTING AND NAUSEA- Try not to consume any solid foods until the vomits end. Go for light food like salty crackers, bread, rice or bananas. Keep sipping liquid and don’t go for greasy, spicy, or fried food. Don’t take any medicines without consulting a doctor since they can make your diarrhea worse in certain circumstances.
PREVENT DEHYDRATION- The best thing to do as soon as you feel you have food poisoning is to increase your intake of clear liquids. Go for fluids in smaller sips and then increase it gradually. If the diarrhea or vomiting lasts more than a day, then take some oral dehydration solution.
WHEN TO GO TO A DOCTOR- If you aren’t sure of how long does food poisoning last for you and it is more than three days while having belly pain, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, dehydration, fatigue etc. then you must call your doctor and get some proper medication.
Even though many patients get better without consulting a doctor, a general physician can normally treat the common kinds of food poisoning. However, for much serious kinds there can be a need for a team of doctors that may include specialists in infectious diseases.
Food poisoning last , how to prevent it?
Numerous steps can be taken to ensure that the food we consume is healthy and safe. We must control what is under our control, we should always prepare food properly, that includes cleaning them properly and thoroughly, storing them properly and ensuring we don’t let anything else contaminate it. A big contributor to food poisoning is left over food; we tend to store them in a manner than it gets contaminated in the fridge or storage. We must consider self-hygiene and to clean countertops while cooking. For things that are not in our control like eating out, we should take the following things into consideration, to ensure the meat is properly cooked and to not consume anything that looks unusual, bacteria is transmitted the most from dirty plates and silverware.
You can prevent food poisoning by keeping in mind the following things while preparing, storing and eating food.
- Clean: Before you prepare or eat food always wash your hands. Also, the surfaces you use for making food should be cleaned often. Germs have the tendency to survive in numerous places surrounding your kitchen, chopping boards, utensils and your hands. Try to clean your vegetables and fruits under running water and never neglect any food safety rules.
- Cook: Try cooking to the right temperature. Many people claim that they can tell when the food is ready by simply seeing its texture and color, there is simply no way to be positive that it is safe without following some simple but important steps. Always use a food thermometer to make sure that your food is cooked to a safe internal temperature i.e. 62.77 C or 145 F for whole meats (letting the meat to rest for at least 3 minutes before consuming), 71.11 C or 160 F for ground meats, and 73.89 C or 165 F for all kind of poultry.
Chill: Your refrigerator should have a temperature below 4.44 C or 40 F and try refrigerating food properly. Germs have the tendency to grow in foods as quickly as in just 2 hours unless you put them in refrigerator. During hot weather, this time cuts down to even 1 hour.
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Food poisoning last , is food poisoning serious?
As mentioned above, the severity of the food poisoning helps evaluate how long food poisoning lasts and if it is serious and needs medical attention. On several occasions it has proven to be serious, as it leads to dehydration. Dehydration can be extremely dangerous as your body is low on fluids which slow down the functioning of the organs. Certain types of food poisoning viruses are also dangerous. For example, Listeria bacteria have proven to be extremely dangerous for the unborn babies of pregnant women, even though the infection is very mild on the mother it can cause premature labor, stillbirth, and miscarriage and hinder the development of the baby. This bacterium also affects the people who have weaker immune systems by developing complications which show up years later. Another example would be the food poisoning caused by Escherichia coli bacteria has caused hemolytic uremic syndrome which causes immediate kidney failure.
There are certain long-term effects connected to food poisoning which doesn’t happen to every food poisoning patient. Most of the people recover without any long lasting effect while for some food poisoning can be really devastating or even deadly. Some of the most common long-term effects with food poisoning include kidney failure, nerve and brain damage, chronic arthritis and even death.
So to understand how long does food poisoning last , we must know the kind of bacteria we have been infected with along with its severity.The duration can only be predicted by the doctor and nobody can give an exact time frame in which this illness will go away. This is because there are numerous kinds of food poisoning and for everyone the immune system responds in its own time and hence some recover early while some take more time.