Your stomach produces acids to break down food for digestion. Your stomach processes the food into a liquid form. The processed liquid travels from your stomach to your small intestine. The liquid solidifies as it moves through the large intestine, forming a stool. The stool is eliminated from your body when you have a bowel movement.
Eating contaminated foods causes food poisoning. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are germs that commonly cause food poisoning. Such germs can contaminate food when it is being prepared or handled.
A doctor can diagnose food poisoning by reviewing your medical history, conducting a physical examination, and viewing the results of tests. You should provide your doctor with a list of all of the foods and beverages that you have consumed recently. Blood, stool, or vomit may be tested to identify the type of germ that caused the food poisoning. Leftover food may be tested as well.
Some types of food poisoning are more serious than others and require emergency medical attention. For example, food poisoning from shellfish or mushrooms requires emergency department treatment to empty the stomach. Additionally, antibiotic medicine may be used to treat severe forms and certain types of food poisoning.
You may prevent food poisoning by carefully following instructions for preparing, storing, refrigerating, canning, freezing, defrosting, and cooking foods. Throw away food or beverages that do not appear to be fresh. Clean countertops, food prep areas, and dining ware. Practice good hand washing.
Am I at Risk
Such factors include:
• the overall health of the person
• age of the person
• how much of the contaminant was consumed
• the type of contaminant
Those at the highest risk include:
• Older adults
• Pregnant women
• Infants and children
• People with compromised immune systems, such as people with diabetes, AIDS, and liver disease, as well as those receiving radiation or chemotherapy for cancer
• People that travel outside of the United States in areas where sanitation is compromised.
You should also call your doctor if you have diarrhea that lasts more than three days, blood in your stool, or a temperature greater than 101° F. You should call you doctor if you vomit blood.
Call 911 for emergency medical treatment if you have trouble breathing or swallowing, a racing or pounding heart, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, double vision, fainting, dizziness, paralysis, or excessive blood in your stool.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.