Prognosis of Food Poisoning

By  , Expert Content
Aug 27, 2012

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Food poisoning is caused by consumption of food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins made by these germs. Food poisoning is a major public health problem in many parts of the world (especially in places where sanitary conditions are poor). Most cases of food poisoning are caused by contamination of food or water by viruses, or bacteria such as Staphylococcus or E. coli.

Prognosis of food poisoning

Most cases of food poisoning are not serious. They start to feel better within 24 to 48 hours with fluid replacement and medications (as needed). Uneasiness in stomach or nausea and slight diarrhoea may last 1-2 days longer.

However, some people may develop severe symptoms and it can result in long-term illness and death. Risk of severe illness and complications is more common in young children, elderly people, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. If you have severe symptoms or you belong to high risk groups, consult a doctor immediately.

Most cases of food poisoning are not dangerous, as long as you are careful to avoid dehydration. Dehydration—this is commonest complication and can occur in any type of food poisoning. Dehydration can be prevented by drinking lots of fluids.

Drinking small, frequent sips of water or ready-mixed rehydration sachets added to drinking water can prevent dehydration. People with severe dehydration may need to be admitted to a hospital for giving intravenous fluids. Fluids through a vein (intravenous hydration) provide the body with water and essential nutrients much more quickly than oral rehydration solutions.

Some serious complications of food poisoning include:

  • Arthritis (can occur in Salmonella and Yersinia).
  • Bleeding problems (can occur in E.coli infection and food poisoning caused by many different organisms. Bleeding, can lead to more complications).
  • Pericarditis (Salmonella can cause pericarditis).
  • Damage to the nervous system (can occur in botulism and Campylobacter infection. Botulism can cause respiratory distress that may require a ventilator or can even cause death).
  • Kidney problems (may occur in E. coli and Shigella infection).
  • Some mushroom and fish toxins can cause neurological symptoms and death.



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