Food is life and the way to get to a man’s heart is through his stomach. These are ancient but relevant maxims that every human being knows, believes and approves. Food is not just a basic human right but also a preserver of human existence. However, it is not strange that the same all-important blessing meant to nourish our bodies to turn out to be the very carrier of death, and sweet and delicious tasting death through food poisoning.
However, food poisoning is not an automatic death sentence and hence anyone with this basic knowledge can manage it at home. This is because not all forms of food poisoning require medical attention.
But before looking at its management medications (in severe cases), let us define food poisoning. It is a medical condition caused by eating foods that have been contaminated by harmful organisms. These organisms are:
- Bacteria; and
These organisms are mostly found in raw meat, fish, chicken, and eggs although they can also inhabit other kinds of food. Also it is possible to catch food poisoning by touching and eating food with dirty hands.
Most cases food poisoning disappear within a few days given enough rest and home care. Following the guidelines below will help you with this:
- Prevent dehydration
Dehydration is the most frequent complication arising from food poisoning. The elderly and children should take special precautions to prevent it because they are most vulnerable.
To prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink such as Pedialyte. Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink for each episode of diarrhea you have. Avoid sports drinks, soda pop, and fruit juices because they contain too much sugar and lack sufficient amounts of important electrolytesthat are lost during diarrhea.
Remember to stick to your normal healthy because this will help you to regain sufficient nutrition.
- Managing dehydration in children
Since children stand higher risks of fatalities, take extra precautions to prevent dehydration.
For breast-feeding or bottle-feeding children, continue breast-feeding or formula feeding. You may have to feed more often to replace lost fluids. Give an oral rehydration solution (ORS), such as Pedialyte, between feedings only when you notice food poisoning signs.
Avoid sugary and fatty foods. Supplement feedings with small sips or spoonfuls of a rehydration drink or clear liquid after every few minutes.
Medicines are rarely used in food poisoning. Antidiarrheals can help manage symptoms but don’t give them to children. Medicines such as Imodium shouldn't be used if you have a fever or bloody diarrhea, because they can actually make you sicker.
However, only some types of food poisoning require medicinal treatment. They are as follows:
- Botulism- it requires the Botulism antitoxin and close medical care;
- Listeriosis- in pregnant women it is treated using antibiotics to prevent infection of the fetusnewborn. Babies with Listeriosis may also receive antibiotics.
- Shigellosis- which may be treated with antibiotics. But some types of Shigella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Since continued anti-biotic use can make these bacteria more resistant, only mild cases of shigellosis are treated using other alternatives.