Perspective

Watch that Christmas meal, or else…

The scene

He was brought into the emergency room supported on both arms with shortness of breath and water seemed to have been squeezed from his skin; being wrinkled all over. 13 days earlier, the undergraduate bought a tin of sardine to be complemented with ‘’Agege bread’’ and a bottle of soft drink. Having taken 2 of the 3 pieces in the pack, he tucked the left over in a compartment in the refrigerator. 12 days later (a day before being brought to the hospital), he arrived home hungry with nothing to eat in sight; reached for the sardine (‘’which was still good to look at but stale in taste’’). Down his throat the sardine travelled, about 8 hours after, he started passing watery stool, then later vomiting. At the last count he was said to have visited the loo 14 times and vomited 9 times! Could this be food poisoning?

What it is?
Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating contaminated food. Infectious organisms — including bacteria, viruses and parasites — or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning. Infectious organisms or their toxins can contaminate food at any point of processing or production. Contamination can also occur at home if food is incorrectly handled or cooked. The same food can affect people differently. Some may feel unwell after just a few bites. Others can eat a lot and have no reaction at all. Food poisoning is not application of ‘’juju’’ to meals!

What causes food poisoning?

Most food poisoning can be traced to one of the following three major causes:

Bacteria

Bacteria is by far the most prevalent cause of food poisoning. These include Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria (can be very fatal),Staph aureus, C.botulinum, Campylobacter etc with Dr Ade Oderinde (a multi award-winning Medical Practitioner) Health Classico 08055612721 koregboye@yahoo.com

Parasites

Food poisoning caused by parasites is not as common as that caused by bacteria, but parasites spread through food are still very dangerous. Toxoplasma is the parasite seen most often in cases of food poisoning. It’s typically found in cat litter boxes.

Viruses

Food poisoning can also be caused by a virus. The norovirus, also known as the Norwalk virus, causes over 19 million cases of food poisoning each year. In rare cases, it can be fatal. Sapovirus, rotavirus, and astrovirus bring on similar symptoms, but they’re less common. Hepatitis A virus is a serious condition that can be transmitted through food as well.

What may give it away

Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms: Nausea (the urge to vomit), Vomiting, Watery or bloody diarrhea, Abdominal pain and cramps, Fever. Kidney failure may result in some cases. Manifestations are within hours after eating the contaminated food, or they may begin days or even weeks later depending on the toxin involved. Sickness caused by food poisoning generally lasts from a few hours to several days. How does food become contaminated? Pathogens can be found on almost all of the food that humans eat. However, heat from cooking usually kills pathogens on food before it reaches our plate. Foods eaten raw are common sources of food poisoning because they don’t go through the cooking process. Occasionally, food will come in contact with the organisms in fecal matter. This most commonly happens when a person preparing food doesn’t wash their hands before cooking. Meat, eggs, and dairy products are frequently contaminated. Water may also be contaminated.

Risk factors

Whether one become ill after eating contaminated food depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, age and your health. High-risk groups include: Older adults; As one gets older, the system may not respond as quickly and as effectively to infectious organisms as when you were younger. Pregnant women; During pregnancy, changes in metabolism and circulation may increase the risk of food poisoning. Infants and young children; Their immune systems haven’t fully developed. People with chronic disease; Having a chronic condition — such as diabetes, liver disease or AIDS — or receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer reduces your immune response. Poor hygiene habit

The catch

Detailed history with stool culture and other tests deemed necessary by the practitioner.

Treatment Treatment

for food poisoning typically depends on the source of the illness, if known, and the severity of symptoms. For most people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days, but it lingers for some. Treatment of food poisoning may include: Replacement of fluid and electrolytes with administration of antibiotics. However, antibiotics will not help food poisoning caused by viruses. Antibiotics may actually worsen symptoms in certain kinds of viral or bacterial food poisoning, so please ensure you consult a doctor to be appropriately guided.

What’s bad to eat during food poisoning?

To prevent your stomach from getting more upset, try to avoid the following; dairy products, especially milk and cheeses, fatty food, highly seasoned foods, food with high sugar content, spicy foods, fried foods.

What’s good?

Lots of water/fluids plus any other meal as tolerated.

When to see a doctor

As soon as symptoms occur!

Prevention

The good old Hand washing hygiene work wonders! Food should be properly sealed and stored at a safe temperature. Thoroughly cook meat and eggs. Anything that comes in contact with raw products should be sanitized before using it to prepare other foods and always wash fruits and vegetables before serving. Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. Defrost food safely.

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