Foodborne illness causes 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and is a growing problem worldwide. Food poisoning can have many different symptoms, so understanding how to know if you have food poisoning is crucial for everyone who eats food.
When you find out you have food poisoning, it’s pretty scary. But if you know the six most common reasons, you can take action right away and feel better fast.
How to Know if You Have Food Poisoning
Food poisoning, or foodborne illness, happens when you eat contaminated food. In most cases, the food was not prepared under sanitary conditions, causing bacteria to grow and produce toxins. The toxins in the food cause symptoms that range from mild to severe nausea and vomiting.
Toxins produced by bacteria can also affect your nervous system. This can cause symptoms like headache, stiff neck, and confusion.
What to do when you’re sick
When you’re not feeling well, it’s best to stay away from the kitchen and all potentially contaminated foods. It’s tempting to order takeout or try to whip up a meal in your kitchen, but that can be risky if you have food poisoning.
Treatment for food poisoning varies, depending on the type of pathogen that made you sick. Bacterial infections may respond to antibiotics, while viral infections don’t respond to antibiotic treatment.
If you suspect that you have food poisoning, here are some tips:
- Contact your doctor: Tell your doctor if you’ve eaten at a restaurant or store and then got sick. This gives them important information about what you ate that could help diagnose food poisoning. Don’t wait to see if you get better on your own. Even if you feel better the next day, there may be still something wrong in your digestive tract that needs to be checked out
- Seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen or aren’t improving after several days.
- Don’t eat solid food until your nausea and vomiting are gone. Try drinking fresh fruit juices and clear broths, such as chicken broth or vegetable broth.
- Avoid milk and other dairy products until it is clear that your symptoms are improving.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids — water is best, but clear fruit juices and broths (without chunks) are also OK.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol since they may make you feel worse.
- Drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration
- Get plenty of rest — it will improve your body’s ability to fight the infection.
- When you’re sick, your immune system usually provides effective defense. However, there are some circumstances in which you might need to support your body’s natural defenses with extra help.
- Rest up: When you’re sick, rest is key. Your body needs it to recover, and if you exercise too hard or too long, you’ll make things worse. If you can’t rest at home, find a quiet room at the office or library where you can catch a few winks while watching the news on TV.
- Take care of yourself: Stay hydrated and eat nutritious foods to give your body the fuel it needs to fight off illness. When you’re sick, it’s especially important to stay away from junk food – greasy foods won’t help your immune system do their job effectively and could give your symptoms an extra kick in the butt.
- Get some sleep: or try a quick nap instead! A restful night could help your body heal faster, too.
Six ways you can treat food poisoning at home
Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, occurs when you eat contaminated food. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In the United States, about 48 million people get sick from food poisoning each year. Most recover in a few days without treatment.
Food poisoning is usually caused by bacteria or viruses that contaminate foods before or after preparation. Parasites, chemicals, or toxins can also cause it. To prevent food poisoning:
- Keep your food at safe temperatures.
- The clean kitchen often surfaces and washes your hands properly before preparing meals and handling raw meat and poultry.
- Pay attention to expiration dates on perishable foods such as meat and dairy products, as well as cooking oils and seasonings such as salt, pepper, and spices.
- Avoid purchasing lunch meats from the deli counter if they are not refrigerated to keep them cold while you shop for other items in the store.
- Keep hot foods hot (145 degrees Fahrenheit) and cold foods cold (40 degrees Fahrenheit).
- If you think you have food poisoning, tell a doctor right away so they can determine what type of organism is causing the illness and prescribe appropriate treatment.
Final Thoughts about How to Know if You Have Food Poisoning
Knowledge is power, and that’s true when it comes to food poisoning. Awareness is the first step in taking care of yourself if you have food poisoning, and so you must learn all you can about this sad but inevitable reality of life. Read on below for tips on recognizing the symptoms of food poisoning, where it can come from, and what you can do to prevent getting sick.