Also known as foodborne illness, food poisoning is caused by consuming contaminated food or drinks. Viruses, bacteria, parasites, as well as their toxins, are the main causes of this illness. Food poisoning is common and can be a life-threatening problem around the world. People who are infected with harmful organisms may not develop any symptoms. Others may experience mild discomfort, bloody diarrhea, and severe dehydration.
Infections caused by bacteria include Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella, Norovirus, Listeria, and Botulism. Depending on the type of infection, a person can die due to food poisoning. These infectious organisms can contaminate the food even during production or processing. It can also occur at home if the food is cooked or handled the wrong way.
Food Poisoning: Is it Contagious?
Is food poisoning contagious? Yes. There are contagious food poisonings, depending on the type of infection a person has. Some organisms like Salmonella, Campylobacter, Norovirus, and E. coli can cause contagious types of food poisoning. People who are contaminated may spread the microbes through vomiting or fecal matter.
Feces and vomit are full of germs and it is essential to disinfect the areas that may be contaminated. If the organisms remain, someone could touch the area and may develop the symptoms of food poisoning after putting their hands near their mouth. These harmful organisms may also affect caregivers if they are not cautious enough when cleaning the contaminated area.
People who consumed contaminated foods are suffering from non-contagious food poisoning. Bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus can release toxins in the food under environmental conditions. In most cases, food poisoning can be resolved without any treatment.
Is food poisoning contagious if I am pregnant? Yes. Pregnant women should also seek medical attention right away as the infection can affect the baby.
Symptoms of Food Poisoning
The signs and symptoms of food poisoning depend on the type of infection. The common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, and watery diarrhea. You may also experience tiredness, weakness, and headache.
Seek medical attention right away if your fever is above 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, if you are vomiting severely, and if your diarrhea occurs for more than three days. If you are also experiencing the signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, extreme thirst, and unable to urinate, see a professional immediately.
Causes of Food Poisoning
The causes of food poisoning are bacteria, viral, or parasitic organisms. Here are the common contaminants and their means of transmission.
- Coli – The bacteria spread if the beef is undercooked. Other possible foods contaminated by E.coli include apple cider, unpasteurized milk, contaminated water, and alfalfa sprouts. This condition can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys.
- Listeria – This is usually transmitted through luncheon meats, hot dogs, unpasteurized cheese and milk, and unwashed raw produce. Food poisoning caused by listeria is very dangerous for unborn babies.
- Salmonella – The foods affected are raw meat, egg yolks, milk, and poultry. The bacteria can survive if the foods are not cooked properly. Some symptoms of salmonella include eye irritation, joint pain, and pain when urinating.
- Clostridium botulinum – These bacteria often contaminate home-canned foods, salted or smoked fish, and potatoes baked in aluminum foil.
- Campylobacter – These curved bacteria can be acquired from poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk, and contaminated water.
- Noroviruses – Foods that are usually affected include shellfish from contaminated water and raw produce.
- Shigella – These bacteria can affect raw produce and seafood.
- Staphylococcus Aureus – Bacteria from prepared salads, meats, cream-filled pastries, and cream sauces.
- Vibrio Vulnificus – Undercooked mussels, oysters, scallops, and clams can be contaminated by these bacteria.
Treatments for Food Poisoning
Here are the treatments for food poisoning.
1. Fluid Replacement
In most cases, food poisoning heals on its own without any treatment. If you are vomiting, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. You need to replace the crucial fluids and electrolytes in your body, such as potassium, sodium, and calcium.
You should also avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and nicotine to speed up the healing process of your body. Do not eat fried and fatty foods as these foods may aggravate your condition. Instead, eat bland foods like rice, toast, bananas, and rice to reduce stress on your digestive tract.
For severe cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat food poisoning. In some cases, if the cause of food poisoning is listeria, your doctor may recommend antibiotics through your vein. During pregnancy, early treatment is needed to prevent the infection from affecting the unborn baby.
Natural Solutions for Food Poisoning
There are also home remedies that you can try to alleviate the symptoms of food poisoning, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps.
1. Lemon Juice
Lemon contains anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties that can help in eliminating the infection. The acid content in lemon can also purge the harmful bacteria that caused food poisoning. Simply cut a fresh lemon and squeeze out its juice in a glass. Drink lemon juice two to three times daily.
Ginger is another effective and natural way to treat digestive problems, including food poisoning. To make ginger tea, simply grate medium-sized ginger and boil it in a cup of water. You can add honey or sugar for taste. Drink this tea to reduce nausea, heartburn, as well as other symptoms. Alternatively, you can eat slices of raw ginger to acquire its benefits.
Another way to cure food poisoning is to mix a few drops of ginger juice with one teaspoon of honey. Consume this a few times a day to relieve pain and inflammation.
Banana is rich in potassium and it is also easy to digest. If you are vomiting, you can eat one banana to restore potassium in your body. This fruit can also improve your energy level. You can also consume banana shake two times a day.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can alleviate various symptoms of food poisoning. It also provides an alkaline effect and can soothe the digestive tract. This solution is also effective in killing the bacteria to provide you immediate relief. Simply add two tablespoons of ACV to a cup of warm water. Drink this solution before meals. You can also drink two to three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar directly.
Another natural remedy for food poisoning is garlic. It has potent antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that can effectively kill the bacteria that cause infection. It can also relieve abdominal pain and diarrhea. Simply consume one fresh garlic clove or make a garlic juice to treat food poisoning. You can also mix garlic oil with soybean oil and apply the mixture to your stomach after every meal.
6. Raw Honey
Honey contains antibacterial and antifungal properties that can treat various digestion problems, such as indigestion, upset stomach, and food poisoning. Simply consume one teaspoon of honey three times daily to treat the infection.
7. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds can alleviate stomach inflammation and discomfort caused by food poisoning. Add one teaspoon of cumin to a cup of water and bring this to boil. Drink this two times a day to soothe your digestive tract.
You can also mix cumin seeds with asafetida, a bit of salt, and a glass of water. Drink this three times a day to reduce the symptoms of food poisoning and to cleanse your digestive system.
Basil contains antimicrobial properties and can help in reducing abdominal pain caused by food poisoning. This nutritious herb can combat the harmful microorganisms to get rid of the infection. Simply consume basil juice with a bit of honey a few times a day to get relief. Another option is to add a few drops of basil oil in four cups of fresh water and drink this solution.
You can also add some basil leaves to a cup of unsweetened yogurt. Consume this three times a day to alleviate the symptoms of food poisoning.
9. Yogurt and Fenugreek Seeds
Yogurt contains antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that can eliminate the harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. Fenugreek seeds can also help in alleviating the symptoms of food poisoning. Simply mix one tablespoon of yogurt with one teaspoon of fenugreek seed. Eat this solution without chewing the seeds.
The combination of these two ingredients will give you relief from pain caused by food poisoning. It will also reduce vomiting and stomach pain.
10. Herbal Tea
Drinking herbal teas can calm your upset stomach and will also prevent dehydration. You can consume peppermint tea, which provides soothing effects and can relieve abdominal pain. If you are vomiting or nauseous, have a few cups of chamomile or licorice tea.
How to Prevent Food Poisoning
You can prevent food poisoning by cooking your food properly. Foods like fish, meats, and eggs could cause infection if not prepared and cooked right. It is also important to keep not only your hands clean but also the surface and all kitchen utensils. People who have a weak immune system or pregnant must not eat foods like deli meats, unpasteurized milk, and sushi to prevent food poisoning.
If you are still wondering, is food poisoning contagious? Yes, depending on the type of infection. It can be transmitted by feces or vomit. Make sure that you disinfect the contaminated area right away to prevent the spread of the disease.