Food Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

7 Jul

Food poisoning is a common, usually mild, but sometimes deadly illness. Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea that occur suddenly (within 48 hours) after consuming a contaminated food or drink. Depending on the contaminant, fever and chills, bloody stools, dehydration, and nervous system damage may follow. These symptoms may affect one person or a group of people who ate the same thing (called an outbreak).

The known causes of food poisoning can be divided into two categories: infectious agents and toxic agents.

  • Infectious agents include viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
  • Toxic agents include poisonous mushrooms, improperly prepared exotic foods (such as barracuda - ciguatera toxin), or pesticides on fruits and vegetables.

Food usually becomes contaminated from poor sanitation or preparation. Food handlers who do not wash their hands after using the bathroom or have infections themselves often cause contamination. Improperly packaged food stored at the wrong temperature also promotes contamination. Food poisoning may also occur when fruits and vegetables infested with heavy dose of pesticide are consumed. It is advised to wash vegetables with salt water before consuming.

Food Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms of food poisoning depend on the type of contaminant and the amount eaten. The symptoms can develop rapidly, within 30 minutes, or slowly, worsening over days to weeks. Most of the common contaminants cause:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramping
  • fever

Usually food poisoning is not serious, and the illness runs its course in 24-48 hours.

When to Seek Medical Care

Contact your doctor if any of the following situations occur:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea lasts for more than two days.
  • The ill person is a child younger than three years of age.
  • The abdominal symptoms are associated with a low-grade fever.
  • Symptoms begin after recent foreign travel.
  • Other family members or friends who ate the same thing are also sick.
  • The ill person cannot keep any liquids down.
  • The ill person does not improve within two days even though they are drinking large amounts of fluids.
  • The ill person has a disease or illness that weakens their immune system (for example, HIV/AIDS, cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, kidney disease).
  • The ill person cannot take their normal prescribed medications because of vomiting.
  • The ill person has any nervous system symptoms such as slurred speech, muscle weakness, double vision, or difficulty swallowing.
  • The ill person is pregnant.

Go to the nearest hospital’s emergency department if any of the following situations occur:

  • The ill person passes out or collapse, become dizzy, lightheaded, or has problems with vision.
  • A fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C) occurs with the abdominal symptoms.
  • Sharp or cramping pains do not go away after 10-15 minutes.
  • The ill person’s stomach or abdomen swells.
  • The skin and/or eyes turn yellow.
  • The ill person is vomiting blood or having bloody bowel movements.
  • The ill person stops urinating, have decreased urination, or have urine that is dark in color.
  • The ill person develops problems with breathing, speaking, or swallowing.
  • One or more joints swell or a rash breaks out on the ill person’s skin.
  • The ill person or caretaker considers the situation to be an emergency.

Food Poisoning Treatment

Food Poisoning Self-Care at Home

Short episodes of vomiting and small amounts of diarrhea lasting less than 24 hours can usually be cared for at home.

  • Do not eat solid food while nauseous or vomiting but drink plenty of fluids.
    • Small, frequent sips of clear liquids (those you can see through) are the best way to stay hydrated.
    • Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, or sugary drinks. Over-the-counter rehydration products made for children such as Pedialyte and Rehydralyte are expensive but good to use if available.
    • Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Electral are fine for adults if they are diluted with water because at full strength they contain too much sugar, which can worsen diarrhea.
    • Home remedies to treat nausea or diarrhea such as tea with lemon and ginger can be used for relief from symptoms. There are no proven herbal food poisoning cures. Consult a health care practitioner before taking any natural food poisoning remedies.
  • After successfully tolerating fluids, eating should begin slowly, when nausea and vomiting have stopped. Plain foods that are easy on the stomach should be started in small amounts. Initially consider eating rice, wheat, breads, potatoes, low-sugar cereals, lean meats, and chicken (not fried). Milk can be given safely, although some people may experience additional stomach upset due to lactose intolerance.
  • Most food poisonings do not require the use of over-the-counter medicines to stop diarrhea, but they are generally safe if used as directed. It is not recommended that these medications be used to treat children. If there is a question or concern, always check with a doctor.

Food Poisoning Medical Treatment

The main treatment for food poisoning is replacing fluids into the body (rehydration) through an IV and by drinking. The patient may need to be admitted to the hospital. This depends on the severity of the dehydration, response to therapy, and ability to drink fluids without vomiting. Children, in particular, may need close observation.

  • Anti-vomiting and diarrhea medications may be given.
  • The doctor may also treat any fever to make the patient more comfortable.
  • Antibiotics are rarely needed for food poisoning. In some cases, antibiotics worsen the condition. Only a few specific causes of food poisoning are improved by using these medications. The length of illness with traveler’s diarrhea (shigellae) can be decreased with antibiotics, but this specific illness usually runs its course and improves without treatment.
  • With mushroom poisoning or eating foods contaminated with pesticides, aggressive treatment may include intravenous (IV) fluids, emergency intervention for life-threatening symptoms, and giving medications such as antidotes, such as activated charcoal. These poisonings are very serious and may require intensive care in the hospital

Food Poisoning Prevention

Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential to avoiding food-borne illness. Bacteria cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, and they may be on any food.

Follow the CDC food safety guidelines to keep contaminants away.

Safe shopping

  • Buy cold foods last during your shopping trip. Get them home fast.
  • Never choose torn or leaking packages.
  • Do not buy foods past their “sell-by” or expiration dates.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods.
  • Pregnant women should avoid foods that can carry Listeria and should discuss healthy foods during their pregnancy with their OB/GYN physician.

Safe storage of foods

  • Keep it safe; refrigerate.
  • Unload perishable foods first and immediately refrigerate them. Place raw meat, poultry, or fish in the coldest section of your refrigerator.
  • Check the temperature of your appliances. To slow bacterial growth, the refrigerator should be at 40 F (4.44 C) , the freezer at 0 F (-17.7 C).
  • Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within two days.

Safe food preparation

  • Keep everything clean!
  • Wash hands before and after handling raw meat and poultry.
  • Sanitize cutting boards often in a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach in one quart of water.
  • Do not cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash hands, cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.
  • Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator. Discard any uncooked/unused marinade.

Thawing food safely

  • Refrigerator: Allows slow, safe thawing. Make sure thawing juices do not drip on other foods.
  • Cold water: For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge in cold tap water.
  • Microwave: Cook meat and poultry immediately after microwave thawing.

Safe cooking

  • Use a meat thermometer
  • Cook ground meats to 160 F (71 C)
  • Cook ground poultry to 165 F (74 C)
  • Cook beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops to 145 F (63 C)
  • Cook all cuts of fresh pork to 160 F (71 C).
  • Whole poultry should reach 180 F (82 C) in the thigh; breasts 170 F (76.6 C).
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Never leave food out more than two hours (or more than one hour in temperatures above 90 F [32 C]).
  • Bacteria that cause food poisoning grow rapidly at room temperature.
  • Use cooked leftovers within four days.

Alcohol Effects on the Heart

2 Jul

By: S. Rennie, LPN

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While researching this topic, one thing became very clear – there is firm data that suggests that alcohol is both good and bad for your heart. There are many factors that play into this finding and it’s not cut and dry. Once you sort through family history, amount of drinking, what you drink and for how long, then you can begin to see where you fit into this topic. Since the focus is primarily on alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, the topic will be explored mostly with that in mind.

The effect of alcohol is complex, and for some people, mild use can be harmful and heavy use is certainly harmful. Long–term and heavy alcohol misuse is directly linked to stroke, high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy.

High Blood Pressure: Excessive alcohol use can raise your blood pressure to an unhealthy level. Reducing alcohol consumption will reduce blood pressure readings by a few points on both the systolic and diastolic numbers. High blood pressure is directly related to the occurrence of stroke.

Stroke: Heavy drinking is linked to both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery is blocked to the brain thus causing damage and/or death to the brain tissue due to the cutoff of the oxygen and nutrient supply. Approximately 88% of strokes are Ischemic. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a diseased blood vessel bursts and allows blood to leak into the brain. This sudden increase in pressure causes damage to the brain cells and can lead to unconsciousness and even death. The most common cause is high blood pressure.

Cardiomyopathy: Cardiomyopathy is a general term for a group of diseases that abnormally enlarge, thicken or stiffen heart muscle and reduce pumping effectiveness. Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s oxygen needs. Drinking alcohol in large quantities has a toxic effect on the hearts muscle. It’s mostly seen in men ages 45-55 but can occur in anyone who drinks alcohol over long periods of time.

While studies do show that drinking alcohol in moderation can have some cardiac benefits, doctors to not recommend drinking alcohol for better heart health.1 The benefits that it may provide apply to older people. Since heart disease is uncommon in young people, there are no health benefits from alcohol use for them.

Courtesy: Alcohol Answers

Benefits of Soy Food: Complete Protein

23 Jun

ImageWe have seen the impact of different proteins and how they play a vital role in benefiting the human beings. But of late Soy protein, an alternative protein source has started gaining appreciation from health experts. Did you know Soy Protein is a Plant Protein and soy beans contain little fat which are easily digestible among all the proteins? That is the reason why they are called complete protein. Because of its nature being a plant protein, soy is free from steroids.

You would have come across soy in some way or the other form in your day to day life. Soy beans have been in use in various cuisines and yummy delicacies like tofu, soy milk, soy pudding, hoi sin sauce, soy sauce all contain soy beans. If you are looking for a low fat alternative, you are at liberty to use soy substitutes instead of flour. It would be a great source for people who are looking for losing weight.

Soy is a great source for nutrients like isoflavones, saponins and phytosterol.

  • The role of Saponins is to support immune system.  It also helps in avoiding increase absorption of cholesterol in the body.
  • While Phytosterol helps in preventing cancer. Isoflavones on the other hand are powerful antioxidants which help in preventing the effects of free radicals in the body.
  • The role of Isoflavones is to prevent aging and to prevent from cancer. Isoflavones which along with vitamins A, C and E are known to fight against various diseases including stress, thus soy could be considered as a miracle food.

Heart Healthy Recipes: Download PDF

23 Jun

Dear Friends, 

I came across this amazing PDF book online which has an amazing range of heart healthy recipes. The good news is that all of it are delicious and you dont ve to give up on the flavor. 

Staright from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, US Department of Heath and Human Services 

Link to Donwload: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/other/ktb_recipebk/ktb_recipebk.pdf

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Five easy home tips to prevent heart attack

16 Jun
  • Daily use of lemon prevents accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels
  • Take tablespoon of honey with half a lemon in a glass of water
  • Fresh grape juice is effective in controlling heart attack
  • Beet juice is also recommended for controlling heart attack
  • Take parsley tea two to three times a day.

Sleep Disorder: Are you sleeping right?

16 Jun

Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you are not alone. A recent study has found that one in every two Indians (46 per cent) sleeps less than six hours. A busy work schedule, a hectic social life, household chores and children’s worries leave little time for sleep. Modern life builds up so much stress and anxiety that when we do get to bed, most of us find it difficult to sleep well.

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Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night, to perform optimally. Children need even more sleep. Less sleep causes morning headaches and daytime fatigue, leading to poor concentration and performance.

Insomnia includes the inability to sleep, frequent awakenings during the night and not being able to go back to sleep, or waking up too early. Women are more likely to suffer from chronic insomnia – the ratio is about two women to one man. Working women, in particular, build up a large sleep debt over the years.

To a large extent, we can control the quantity and quality of our sleep. The key to a restful night’s sleep is to calm down your brain rather than rev it up.

What you eat affects how you sleep. Some food slows down nerve traffic and calms the brain and contributes towards a restful sleep; such foods are called sleepers. Other perks up the brain and keep you awake; such foods are called wakers.

Sleepers contain tryptophan, an amino acid that makes up protein, which produces the sleep – inducing substances, serotonin and melatonin. Foods that contain tryptophan or make more tryptophan available to the brain make us sleepy.

Ideal sleepers are food which contains moderate amounts of carbohydrate stimulates the release of insulin which clears amino acids that compete with tryptophan making it more available to the brain. At the same time, protein contributes tryptophan directly to the brain.

Great snooze food includes; dairy products (paneer, cheese, milk and curd), meat, poultry or seafood, whole grains vegetables and pulses (including soyabeans).

Indian dinners usually have a fair share of these types of food. However, our traditional cooking practices include a lot of fat and spices, both of which in terferes with sleep.

Calcium helps the brain use tryptophan; this explains the soporific effect of a glass of milk at bedtime. Foods containing caffeine such as tea,coffee, colas and chocolates are wakers. a high-protein meal without carbohydrates contains the amino acid, tyrosine, which perks up the brain.

An all carbohydrate snack, especially one high in sugar, is less likely to help you sleep. It will raise blood sugar and inhibit sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep. Also, you will miss out on the sleep-inducing effects of tryptophan.

15 minutes of exercise daily extends life by 3 years

4 Jun

ImageA recent study by Taiwan’s National Health Research Institute revealed that indulging in 15 minutes of moderate exercise daily enhances three years of your life, It has been found that a majority of people can’t stick to daily requirement of exercise regime of 30 minutes. Most of them skip exercise due to one reason or the other but this news would inculcate confidence in these people to exercise for 15 minutes daily.

Lead researcher of the study Chi Pang Wen said even doing brisk walking for 15 minutes is also beneficial. This exercise would suit people and children of any age group. Wen and colleagues have published these findings in the medical Journal “The Lancet”. The study was carried on 416,000 participants for 13 years. During the course of the study various factors like age, weight, sex and other health related indicators were taken into consideration. Wen informed that first 15 minutes of the exercise are more important. Daily exercise of 15 minutes also helped in lowering incidence of cancer and reduced deaths pertaining to cancer in one person in ten.

When these studies were compared with the past it was observed that these studies were consistent with the earlier studies. Earlier no study had gone so deep so as to depict the specific amount of exercise is enough? This is the first such study which stressed on the fact that 15 minutes of exercise daily would extend the life of a person by 3 years.

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