Food poisoning is a common illness caused by eating contaminated food. Affecting nearly 80 million individuals each year, food poisoning can occur as a mild illness or a deadly condition. Many cases of food poisoning result from an individual consuming food or water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, toxins, or parasites. The severity of the illness depends on the amount and type of contaminate ingested.
There are more than 250 known agents that can cause food poisoning, with experts estimating that close to 60% of food poisoning cases are caused by unknown agents. The known agents can be divided into two basic categories: infective and toxic. Infective agents include bacteria, parasites, and viruses, while toxic agents include improperly prepared exotic foods, poisonous mushrooms, poisonous seafood, pesticides, and chemicals.
The symptoms of food poisoning are also dependent on the type of contaminate causing the illness. In some cases, symptoms develop rapidly while, in other cases, symptoms can take days or weeks to appear. The typical symptoms of food poisoning include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In more serious cases, symptoms may include bloody stool, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, double vision, and difficulty breathing.
Generally, individuals that contract food poisoning will recover without medical treatment in 2 to 5 days. During short, mild episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, individuals can usually be cared for at home. While nauseous or vomiting, individuals should refrain from eating solid food, but drink plenty of clear liquids to remain hydrated. Once fluids can be tolerated successfully and the nausea has passed, individuals should start solid foods slowly. The best foods to begin with include bread, rice, potatoes, lean meats, and chicken. These foods are easy on the stomach and will provide enough nutrition to help speed recovery.
With more serious cases of food poisoning, medical treatment may be required to make a full recovery. The most important treatment is to rehydrate the ill individual. This is normally accomplished by giving the patient a rehydration solution either orally or intravenously to replace the water, sugars, and salts lost through diarrhea. Anti-diarrheal and anti-vomiting medications may be given, as well as fever reducers to make the patient more comfortable. The physician may try to remove any contaminated food left in the patient’s system with the use of an enema or by inducing vomiting. In rare cases, the patient’s stomach may need to be pumped if the contaminate is especially toxic. Antibiotics may be given to shorten the length of some illnesses or to prevent pregnant women from passing the illness to their unborn children.
In some cases of food poisoning, especially those associated with botulism, mushroom poisoning, or fish poisoning, emergency medical treatment is needed as quickly as possible. These types of food poisoning are caused by potent toxins that need to be removed from the body quickly to avoid complications such as respiratory failure, damage to the nervous system, or paralysis. If diagnosed in the early stages, anti-toxin medications can be given to block the toxins circulating in the blood. Patients in respiratory distress may be placed on a ventilator to assist with their breathing. Patients affected by these types of food poisoning may require weeks of hospitalization to fully recover.
Even with prompt medical attention, some cases of food poisoning will result in death. Infants, the elderly, and people with serious medical problems are at the highest risk of contracting a fatal case of food poisoning. Estimated to be responsible for close to 8 million deaths worldwide every year, food poisoning is considered a major cause of fatalities in both industrialized and less developed nations.
The Information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice. If you feel that you or someone you know has food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately by visiting your doctor of by dialing 911.
Do I have a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?
The Personal Injury Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in food poisoning lawsuits. We are handling individual and group outbreak litigation nationwide and currently accepting new food poisoning cases in all 50 states.
<em>If you or a loved one have been the victim of food poisoning, you should <a href=”https://www.schmidtandclark.com/contact”>contact us</a> immediately. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries by filing a food poisoning lawsuit and we can help.</em>