Food poisoning is caused by improper cooking and storage of foods, poor hygiene, or an unsafe food source. By cooking food well, using good hygiene, and watching what you eat, you will avoid consuming harmful bacteria.
There are about twenty different species of bacteria and several species of protozoan parasites (protozoa: one-celled animals) that can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Contrary to popular opinion, food poisoning does not always occur immediately after eating an infected food. Instead, it can be caused by food eaten several days prior to the onset of food poisoning.
The best solution for food poisoning is to let the body treat the food poisoning on its own. Vomiting and diarrhea are the body's method of removing contaminated food. Through this process, the body may lose a great deal of water, making you dehydrated quickly. It is important that the body's fluid levels are replaced after vomiting and diarrhea by drinking liquids, including: Gatorade®, 7-UP®, apple juice, broth, bullion or Pedialyte®. These fluids can keep you from losing too much water as your body fights the food poisoning.
All cases of restaurant food poisoning should be reported to your county public health department so that other people can be protected. However, it may not be easy to know when or where you ate the bad food. Different species of bacteria/protozoa can take longer before infecting an individual enough for symptoms to appear.
It is essential to see a physician if diarrhea lasts longer than 24 hours, vomiting lasts longer than 12 hours, if there is blood in the stool, fever, excessive vomiting or diarrhea that cause severe muscle cramps, or an inability to keep down any fluids for 12 hours.
Ways to prevent food poisoning include washing your hands, cleaning tools used in preparing foods (including cutting boards, knives, sponges, and dishcloths), washing fruits and vegetables, cooking all food thoroughly, keeping foods very hot or very cold, refrigerating all leftovers within two hours of cooking, defrosting meat in the refrigerator or microwave, and by not buying canned goods that are dented, bulging, or rusted. Wash hands before, during, and after preparing food. When you are washing your hands, use warm water and soap for twenty to thirty seconds. Always wash your hands after touching raw meat, fish, or poultry, and after using the toilet.
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