According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it’s estimated that 1 and 6 people in the United States become sick from eating contaminated food. We spoke with Dr. Andrew Alexander at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs who describes the symptoms of food poisoning and what you can do to prevent an exposure. We might call it gastroenteritis but when they come in they say doc I have food poisoning and they’re almost always right. Sometimes they don’t know they have it but when they come in and they say, I ate something and 2 hours later and 4 hours later, bad things happened. Vomiting terrible abdominal cramps, diarrhea and maybe a little fever, it’s pretty much food poisoning. If something happened within 1 to 6 hours after ingestion, it was probably staph. Staph is a bacteria it doesn’t necessarily hurt you because most of us have staph on our body and in fact about 10 to 20 percent of us have staph in our noses and if that staph gets in the food and if that food is allowed to sit somewhere between 40 degrees and 160 degrees, in otherwards room temperature the staph can grow and emit a toxin.
If you ingest that toxin you’re in trouble because that’s what’s going to cause the wretching, the nausea the vomiting cramps and diarrhea. The length of time after the meal is what gives us a a clue as to what may be causing it. So let’s take salmonella food poisoning, Salmonella lives in animals only so therefore chickens might have it; the famous turtles, we don’t see those little turtles anymore because turtles often will carry salmonella but other animals can as well and so if you had a chicken egg which was contaminated and the egg went into something that’s raw, mayonaise, cookie dough, think about the things you use eggs in that you haven’t cooked yet, frostings and those sit out in room temperature and they grow and you ingest them now you have salmonella food poisoning.
That will occur maybe as late as 12 or 24 hours of ingestion. Later than that you can have E. Coli, that might be one to several days later. E Coli is a very famous cause for gastroenteritis lately and we’ve had this hemorrhagic gastroenteritis where people are bleeding and dying with this so called O157:H7 E Coli. Thats a devastating form of food poisoning and then even longer from 1 to 30 days botulism, people will can their foods and they’re maybe not a very acidic food that they’re canning they don’t quite kill everything and these bacteria of botulism which are all about us: they can grow and then people can ingest those. That’s such a devastating event that we even don’t want young babies eating honey because it’s really difficult to know if a child has botulism, all you know is they don’t feed they don’t move, they don’t suck, they don’t swallow, and the child’s in big trouble.
We have no drugs that will kil toxins in fact we don’t even want necessarily have drugs that will kill that particular bacteria so we support them. They’re going to be sick for a day maybe 2 days. If they get in touble its because of dehydration and so if they’re on a water pill maybe for blood pressure or heart, off you go to your doctor because you probably want to stop that but not untill you talk to your doctor about why and when and how you’d stop it but secondarily you’d want to hydrate and you can buy electrolytes solutions at the store. The most famous brand is Pedialyte but there are many: just drink it. Take a shot glass and every 10 minutes you take a shot. Continuely rehydrate that body. If you had salmonella you might be given an antibiotic but you’d also be given cultures and tests to make sure first of all that you’re not horribly sick, septic or a danger of having salmonella other in the GI Tract.
Getting nausea, throwing up a little bit after a meal might look like food poisoning but if it’s really quick it’s probably not had enough time to be food poisonig, if it is in fact a toxin or a salmonella or an E. Coli its going to depend, your staph is going to be the quickest. You’ll be done in a day or two could be done quicker than that. Salmonella, as much as a week E. Coli, depends upon which type. If it’s your standard Montezuma’s revenge E. Coli which is a toxigenic E. Coli that people pick up on vacations, it might last a couple of days if it’s the dreaded O157, you’re going to go to the emergency room and to the hospital.
Taking precautions while preparing food especially handling poultry and meats and checking dates on foods you purchase will help decrease the chances of contamination. For the American Health Journal, I’m Lora WIndsor..