What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning, also known as food borne disease is a condition that results from ingestion of food or water contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms, toxins produced by microorganisms, and toxic chemicals. Most often, food poisoning results from intoxication that is caused by bacterial toxins, either ingested or produced by the microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract.
Some microorganisms use the food as a source of nutrients for their own growth and by growing the food and metabolizing the food, they make the food unhealthy and cause health problems.
Symptoms of food poisoning
Most often, people develop symptoms of food poisoning between one and three days after eating the contaminated food. Some of the most common symptoms that occur in people having food poisoning are as follows:
- Stomach pain
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal cramps
Diarrhea is the most common symptom in food poisoning and it can result from either damage to the intestinal mucosa that causes inflammation or due to the alteration of the balance between absorption and secretion. Two major types of diarrhea is associated with food poisoning:
1. Secretory diarrhea – It is characterized by inflammation in the intestinal epithelium. It is caused by pathogens and it usually involves the small bowel. In this case, toxins act very quickly and cause an imbalance between fluid absorption and secretion in the intestinal lumen.
2. Inflammatory diarrhea – It occurs due to damage to the intestinal wall caused by pathogens or cytotoxins that are released by organisms. In inflammatory diarrhea, large bowel is commonly involved and the development of symptoms, in this case, is generally delayed as compared to the onset of symptoms in secretory diarrhea.
Causes of food poisoning
Bacterias are the most common cause of food poisoning and there are two types of bacteria that cause major problems:
1. Spoilage bacteria – This type of bacteria are microorganisms that are too small and can only be seen using a microscope. These bacteria cause the food to deteriorate and causes unpleasant odor and taste. It is responsible for the decomposition of food.
2. Pathogenic bacteria – This type of bacteria can cause diseases. It is responsible for causing various illnesses such as food poisoning, tuberculosis, typhoid, and dysentery.
Parasites can also be a cause of food poisoning but it is not as common as bacterias. A parasite is an organism that derives their protection and nourishment from other living organisms. Food poisoning due to parasites can cause serious problems and it can be dangerous. Parasites can be present in food and water and it is highly recognized as a cause of foodborne illnesses.
A virus can also be a cause of food poisoning. Hepatitis A is one of the viruses that can cause food poisoning and it is commonly found in water contaminated with sewage and ready to serve food such as sandwiches, and salads.
Food poisoning can also be developed from several other microorganisms such as:
Some conditions that can be responsible for food poisoning or foodborne disease are as follows;
- Not storing the food in the refrigerator
- Eating food that has been touched by someone who has vomiting
- Not cooking food thoroughly
Common tips for preventing food poisoning
1. Wash raw fruits and vegetables properly with tap water.
2. Keep your hands and kitchen material clean all the time.
3. Do not mix ready to eat food with raw food.
4. Use safe drinking water while preparing food.
5. Check use-by dates while buying the packed food.
Tags: types of food poisoning, symptoms of food poisoning, causes of food poisoning